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Couple focuses on future despite diagnosis

Jesse Brewington, right, with his then-fiancee Karlyn Smith, met friends in April 2011 to get fitted for suits at Apache Mall.

As Jesse Brewington and Karlyn Smith plan to spend the rest of their lives together, two dates are at the forefront of their minds.

One is July 31, when they plan to get married. The second is in early May, when Brewington expects to find out if his body is responding to cancer treatments.

Brewington, 34, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in November. On March 1, after several rounds of chemotherapy, he and Smith learned that the cancer had spread and he was no longer a candidate for surgery.

"One of the hospitalists told us if he were to meet a group of 100 guys the same age and with the same diagnosis and results he would give a 2 percent chance of survival past two to three months," Smith said. "We are hanging onto that small percentage. We want to be it."

Brewington has since started a progressive treatment program at Block Medical Institute in Illinois that combines traditional western medicine with alternative therapies.


"It can't just be about getting a chemo drug and you will be OK forever," said Brewington, who has changed his diet, begun taking vitamin supplements and doing yoga and physical therapy. "There has to be long-term solution."

Something that will help him reach his long-term life goal, to marry Smith.

"You have that feeling and know that someone is the right person," Brewington said. "I know that more than ever now. I can't express in the last several months what she's done for me and how she's been there for me. There's no way I could have done it on my own."

Brewington grew up in Eyota and Smith grew up in Kasson. They met at a street dance in Eyota on July 31, 2004. After he proposed in December 2009, Smith picked their wedding date to line up with their seven-year anniversary as a couple.

"I knew wanted more than a year to plan," she said. "Now I have mixed feelings since he faced his diagnoses last month and they gave him 60 days. July is well outside of that."

The scan in May will help determine if the new approach is working.

"Our hope is to shrink it down so it's manageable," Smith said about the cancer. "No one really believes that there's a cure for Jesse."

Brewington, however, feels strong enough to return to work as a dispatch supervisor for Metro State Patrol Communications in Roseville. That not only restores normalcy to their lives but helps pay for the treatments, which aren't covered by insurance. Each weeklong treatment costs about $12,000, Smith said.


Family, friends and the State Patrol are also holding fundraisers for the couple.

Longtime friend Joe Loftus, who will be the best man in the wedding, said Brewington has always been the person helping others.

"He's one of the truest people you'll ever meet," Loftus said. "He's always done the right thing. He's always about helping other people."

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