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Sen. Brewer says leukemia has returned; will step back from legislative duties
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Sen. Brewer says leukemia has returned; will step back from legislative duties

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Sen. Tom Brewer (right) speaks with a colleague on the floor of the Legislature in April at the Capitol. 

Sen. Tom Brewer said he'll step back from his duties in the Legislature this summer as he prepares to fight hairy cell leukemia for a second time.

In 2014, the decorated veteran, who was seriously wounded in Afghanistan, learned he had the blood cancer following an exit physical with the U.S. Army.

This time, Brewer said doctors saw the slow-growing leukemia returning during blood tests for a series of surgeries he underwent earlier this year, and said the leukemia has left him "tired and run down."

"The warning signs were there that there was a problem," he said in a brief phone interview Monday afternoon.

During the last week of the legislative session, doctors sampled the 62-year-old's bone marrow, which confirmed their suspicions, Brewer said, and he started on antibiotics in preparation to undergo chemotherapy for the cancer.

Monday marked the Republican senator's first chemotherapy session, with treatments expected to continue five days a week into July. The rare cancer has a high survival rate.

With the intensity of the treatment, Brewer said he'll take time away from his job as the chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee during the interim.

But he's already eyeing a return for a special session planned for September to set political boundaries for the next decade, conduct interim studies this fall, and prepare for the 2022 legislative session set to begin in January.

Brewer is also planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania later this year with Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne and Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair.

"I don't plan on not being there, but we'll see how time goes," he said.

Sen. Julie Slama of Peru tweeted she was "praying for my friend and mentor" in his fight against leukemia.

"He's a warrior," Slama said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

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