CALEDONIA -- They already consider themselves part of a brotherhood, but two Wisconsin firefighters have a connection that goes even deeper. Both of the men are battling cancer, and they were diagnosed within a few weeks of one another.
Alex Hagen has been fighting fires in Caledonia for a little over a year.
Now, he is fighting Ewing Sarcoma.
An accident on the job lead to his diagnosis.
"To say I was shocked was a little bit of an understatement," Hagen said.
Even more shocking was the diagnosis of his colleague less than a month later.
Rudi Betancourt works for the nearby South Shore Fire Department. He has been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.
"Being so young and going from running a 5K a couple months before to not being able to push a chair five feet, it was kind of rattling for me," Betancourt said.
Betancourt had a tumor the size of a football pressing down on his chest. Needless to say, it has been a difficult month, but both men say the support from their coworkers is unrivaled.
"I don't consider them coworkers anymore. They're family too. I mean, honestly, from bringing me to cancer treatments, to doctor's appointments, sitting with me through chemotherapy for hours and talking about whatever," Hagen said.
"I don't think I had less than eight people in my hospital room at a given time while I was there," Betancourt said.
Even more amazing is the bond they share with one another.
"It helps having someone there. Especially a brother. I consider him a brother," Betancourt said.
"He's my brother and we're going to get through this together and 20 -30 years from now when we're both retiring, we can look back at this time together and say 'we got through it together,'" Hagen said.
A benefit for Alex Hagen is set for this Sunday, May 22nd at Rivals Sports Pub and Grille on 120th Avenue in Kenosha. The benefit will be held from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. CLICK HERE to learn more about that event.
A benefit for Rudi Betancourt is set for June 10th at The Metal Grill on S. Packard Avenue in Cudahy. CLICK HERE to learn more about that event.