The community of Beiseker is rallying behind a local resident who has been dealt a recent setback regarding a prior cancer diagnosis.
Beiseker-area farmer Rick Hagel was diagnosed with angiosarcoma in June after experiencing pain and swelling in his left foot. Angiosarcoma is a type of cancer that forms in the lining of blood vessels and lymph vessels, according to Mayoclinic.org.
Over the spring and summer, Hagel underwent chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and a surgery in September to remove the cancerous tumour – a treatment regime that proved successful.
However, after experiencing weeks of back spasms and excruciating pain on Nov. 21, a trip to the hospital revealed Hagel’s cancer had returned, spreading to his spine, sternum, and lungs.
Shortly after that setback, Hagel’s three sisters – Patrice, Shannon, and Tanya Hagel – as well as his mother Rosalyn Rosenthal, created a benefit auction over Facebook to raise funds for Hagel and his family to pursue treatment options in the United States.
“I think when we first started this, it was just more [because] we had so many people wanting to do something support-wise – a GoFundMe page, a live auction, that kind of thing,” said Patrice. “We went this avenue instead, but with no dollar amount in mind. It’s just basically for people who want to give and make a difference for Rick and [his wife] Kathryn.”
Since being launched in late November, the online auction has blown up. Dozens of residents of both Beiseker and other communities have donated thousands of dollars worth of products and services to the auction, which will remain live until Dec. 5.
Items up for grabs include everything from Calgary Flames tickets, to a $5,000 youth quad, to overnight stays at vacation homes. In line with the rural nature of Beiseker, many of the items pertain to agricultural services and products, such as 80 pounds of ground beef, horse-breeding services, aerial seeding applications, and tire rotations.
Companies and community groups have also contributed to the cause; the Irricana and District Ag Society and the Irricana Curling Club are donating a day-long facility rental that includes four sheets of ice, while Heighton Auto Restoration is donating a $1,000 gift certificate toward a ski vacation package.
“Every time I go onto the Facebook page, there are more items every day,” Shannon said, adding donors have included residents from Medicine Hat, Innisfail and even New Zealand, where Hagel’s wife Kathryn is originally from.
“Everyone seems to be overbidding on all the items, which is amazing,” she said. “It’s been very humbling and has gone far beyond our expectations.”
While they no longer all live in Beiseker, the Hagels are a well-known farming family in the village, and Rick still operates the family farm.
“Rick is a farm kid,” said his mother Rosalyn Rosenthal. She added her son is passionate about cattle, and is a leader with one of the 4H clubs in the region.
“He’s community-minded. He’s involved with so many things in the community. If they need someone to help, he’s there.”
Shannon said her brother is well aware of the auction and has been overwhelmed by the response, and the support shown his way by the community.
“There are a lot of people on there he doesn’t even know, both bidding and donating items,” she said.
She added Hagel is looking at the spread of his cancer with a positive mindset, similar to when he was first dealt the initial diagnosis earlier this year.
“As far as his outlook, he’s very positive,” she said. “He believes he’s going to beat this, we believe he’s going to beat this, and he’s not stopping.
“He’s looking at every option and is determined to get through this and beat it for his daughter and his wife.”