Firefighters in Racine Co. battling different forms of cancer: “We’re going to get through this together”

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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

Alex Hagen

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

Rudi Betancourt

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.

Caledonia Fire Department

Caledonia Fire Department

"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.

South Shore Fire Department

South Shore Fire Department

"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.

Rudi Strong

Hagen Strong

Hagen Strong

"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.

Caledonia Fire Department/South Shore Fire Department

Caledonia Fire Department/South Shore Fire Department

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.

1 Comment

  • A YOOPER

    To Mr. Betencourt, Please look into MD Anderson Hospital in Houston TX. They are an amazing cancer research hospital! They will go way above & beyond what you would expect.

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