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Update: Rowland Bell passes away after three month struggle with rare disorder

Rowland Bell and Kerstin Byman. - Contributed
Rowland Bell and Kerstin Byman.
— image credit: Contributed

Rowland Bell passed away Monday night after three months in hospital with extremely rare case of paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis.

A celebration of his life is being held at the Revelstoke Community Centre on Tuesday, May 20, at 2 p.m.

Bell, who turned 30 in March, grew up in Toronto and moved to Revelstoke, attracted by the mountain lifestyle like so many others. He was a familiar face behind the repair shop at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, where he worked as a ski tech in the winter.

He and his girlfriend Kerstin Byman got engaged late last year; she is expecting their child in early June.

In April 2013, Bell was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The tumour was discovered and removed very early and no further treatment was expected.

In January, Bell began experiencing extreme fatigue; he was hospitalized on Feb. 7 after experiencing chest pains. He has remained in hospital ever since, diagnosed with paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis, a rare disorder where the autoimmune system attacks the brain cells, mistaking them for cancer cells.

Last week, family and friends started a Facebook page in order to provide updates on Bell's condition. A trust fund was started at TD Bank for people to support the baby boy Byman is expecting.

An outpouring of support emerged yesterday following an article on the Times Review website that has been read by almost 9,000 people in less than 24 hours.

Sadly, he passed away later that day.

Family and friends have been expressing their sympathies on social media. Here is a sample of what has been written on Bell's Facebook page:

David Pearson: "You will be missed and never forgotten. I'm glad our paths crossed here in Revelstoke. 'Go for Rowland.'"

Jacqueline Cover: "I'm glad I had the honor of knowing you.You had such an amazingly kind spirit that everyone should strive to have. Thank you."

Giles Shearing: "The world has lost a powerful proponent of love. Rest in peace Rowland, you will be deeply missed. I will fondly remember our time spent scheming on ways to save the planet."

Ian Houghton: "Rowland, you will be deeply missed. You were one of the most positive people I know, and your smile and infectious laugh lit up the room. You put people at their ease and never had a bad word to say about anyone. I'm proud to have known you, and I'm sure your son will follow in your footsteps. Ski in peace my friend."

Rachel Majury: "We will miss your amazing spirit, so full of positivity and life. There's comfort in knowing you'll be living on through your little one."

Ian Turner: "Thank you for teaching me how to properly tune an edge and base, for always smiling, showing me amazing music, laughing at my stupid jokes and dancing when everyone was watching. Rest in peace Rowland Bell. You were a mountain man, with the heart of a kind bear."

***

To help out, donations can be made at TD Canada Trust by depositing money into account 9360 6269011. The account was set up by family friends' Brenda Demone and Connie McKnight.

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