Updated: January 16, 2017

Article Credit: Ottawa RedBlacks

The greater Ottawa football family is stepping up to help one of its own.

Rick Sowieta, a former Ottawa Rough Riders linebacker, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last February. Over the following 10 months, Sowieta underwent intensive chemotherapy to fight the inoperable, stage three cancer that carries with it a life expectancy of just six to 18 months.

“A few more months of life on chemo isn’t good enough,” states a YouCaring site dedicated to raising funds to help with the expenses associated with Sowieta’s battle.

As Sowieta and his family searched for holistic and traditional medical options to fight the disease, they discovered another possibility. A procedure, called Irreversible Electroporation – also known as “Nanoknife” – is a possibility that the Sowieta family is optimistic about. In fact, they have been told Rick is a strong candidate for the treatment, which uses electrodes to destroy the tumour while not damaging the arteries around it. He also requires another surgery, known as a Whipple, prior to the Nanoknife treatment.

Unfortunately, Canadian surgeons will not “perform the Whipple surgery on Rick and will not use the Nanoknife for pancreatic cancer at all.”

However, Germany’s Dr. Mathias Birth, will perform the operations and Rick will be heading to the country in February to get the treatment. In many other cases, OHIP has denied coverage for similar out of country expenses so the Sowieta Family are looking for help to ensure Rick gets to Germany.

So far, the fundraising campaign has raised more than $11,000 for the man who played seven of his 10 CFL seasons in Ottawa, before endearing himself to the community once again as owner of popular eatery Rick’s Cantina.

Fellow former Rough Rider and current REDBLACKS radio colour analyst Jeff Avery, who played four seasons with Sowieta, isn’t remotely surprised by the outpouring of support for his friend and former teammate.

“Everyone knows and loves the guy,” Avery said. “He’s a great personality, he was a super teammate and an outstanding football player, but just a really personable guy.

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