Superior's mayor said this week that he was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Bruce Hagen - who announced last fall that he was stepping down in the middle of his term due to health issues and a lack of passion for the job - said Thursday that he was diagnosed with the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis about six weeks ago.

"I was having very difficult and elongated coughing spells where you can't control them and lose your ability to function," he said.

Hagen, 70, has struggled with health issues in the past, including a minor stroke in 2015. He said the diagnosis came as a shock, and he's examining medications to slow the progression of the disease.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is caused by thickness or scarring of tissue in the lungs and prevents proper movement of oxygen into the bloodstream, according to the National Institutes of Health. Those who are diagnosed with the disease typically live about three to five years.

Hagen said the diagnosis came as a total shock, but the disease will not affect his plans for retirement.

"We're going to travel," he said. "We bought a home in Florida and (we're going to see) kids and grandkids. We're going to travel extensively at least while I think we can...and selling our house and getting rid of a lot of stuff...and just going to live the life."

Hagen said he wishes he had retired a long time ago. However, he plans on living life to its fullest and carrying on with a positive attitude.

"My life has been great. I've met a lot of wonderful people in my travels, had some difficult times and some people I know I probably pissed off. I apologize for that," he said.

Hagen drew national attention in December 2015 for a Facebook comment about former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, in which he wrote: "Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for!"

Hagen later met with local Muslim leaders and apologized, saying the post was a "poor choice of words."

Hagen said he and his wife, Lois, are planning to head back to Florida, but he said they plan to return to Superior in early May after visiting relatives.

Hagen resigned from office last November - as he had previously announced he would - but was then named interim mayor pending an election to complete the rest of his term, which expires in 2019. Jim Paine, vice chairman of the Douglas County Board, and Superior City Councilor Brent Fennessey are on the ballot for the seat on April 4.

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard in the Twin Ports at 91.3 FM or online at wpr.org/news. The News Tribune contributed to this report.