Former Oklahoma State assistant Gunter Brewer uses every protection against the sun

Former OSU offensive assistant coach Gunter Brewer estimates he's had seven to 10 surgeries for skin cancer. That's the reason he always layers up, even in the August heat.
BY PARISH ALFORD Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal parrish.alford@djournal.com Published: August 26, 2011
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OXFORD, Miss. — Gunter Brewer can handle it.

The looks and stares, the good-natured ribbing, all about his wardrobe.

August heat index figures soar past 100 on the Ole Miss practice fields, and the Rebels' new receivers coach dresses like it's about to snow.

It's not about the temperature. It's about deflecting the sun's rays.

"People look at you on the beach like you're an idiot ... even at practice," said Brewer, who left Oklahoma State in the winter to return to Ole Miss where his dad, Billy Brewer, was head coach from 1983-1993.

The trade for the stares is that Brewer increases the chances he'll be around for his family, wife Rhonda and kids Lauren and Keaton, for years to come.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and Brewer was first diagnosed in 1996.

He was coaching at Marshall then and needed what he terms "reconstruction" of the side of his head. Something Brewer describes as similar to a small shaving cut wouldn't seem to heal. At Rhonda's urging, he had it checked out.

Brewer estimates he's had seven to 10 surgeries since then. He goes for a checkup every six months.

"They had to do a lot of work in 1996, but they got it all," he said. "It scares you every time you go in, waiting on that (pathology) report to come back. That 'C' word puts the fear of God in you."

Billy Brewer had a bout with skin cancer, so Gunter Brewer has a history with it in his family.

He's also seen a friend die at a young age from skin cancer that began as a small spot that proved to be Melanoma.

There are a lot of health concerns on a football team for trainer Tim Mullins. Skin cancer isn't high on the list, but Mullins educates players and coaches nonetheless. Fair-skinned people are at greater risk.

Mullins stocks coaches' lockers with sun screen and makes sure players know there's plenty more for them in the training room.



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