Itawamba cancer survivor claims gold

By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

FULTON – Not even cancer could prevent Ben Brewer from doing what he loves.
Last July, the Itawamba AHS student athlete was diagnosed with acinic cell carcinoma, a rare form of salivary gland cancer. So rare that he could “barely find information on it” while researching for an English term paper.
After doctors performed two surgeries to remove all of the tumor from his facial nerve, Brewer’s football career came to an end and, most important, his health was still in jeopardy. The IAHS athlete even had to undergo eyelid weight implant surgery, when his right eye wouldn’t close, following the second surgery to remove the tumor and parotid gland.
But despite the surgeries, he still could do the one activity he enjoys the most: powerlifting. However, he had to obey the doctor’s order and hold off on powerlifting for two weeks following the first surgery and three weeks after the second one.
“The doctor told me to take it easy,” Brewer said on Wednesday afternoon at the IAHS sports complex. “I didn’t tell him what I actually was doing. I was just being careful with it (powerlifting).”
On Dec. 3, after a month and a half of receiving 33 total radiation treatments, a CT scan showed no signs of cancer.
“It most likely won’t,” the 17-year-old said of the cancer possibly returning, “but there’s still a chance it will.”
Despite having had cancer, the high school junior lifted 60 pounds more at this year’s MHSAA state powerlifting championships than he did at last year’s state meet. His 1,210-pound total during Saturday’s state meet in Jackson was the most in the 148-pound weight division in Class 4A and the second-best out of all six classifications’ 148-pound weight class. The next closest amount was 1,185.
“I pretty much got all of that back in five months,” Brewer said of his strength.
As of now, the Fulton resident can bench up to 315 pounds, squat 480 and deadlift 475. He finished first in his weight class in all of the powerlifting meets he competed in this year.
“That’s just something that I had always done,” Brewer said about lifting weights. “I’ve been doing it since the fourth grade. It helps a lot with stress.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@djournal.com