By Melissa Garcia
DENVER (CBS4) – Denverites gathered Saturday at City Park to support a city councilman who was suddenly diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
Councilman Albus Brooks, who represents District 9, announced earlier this week his diagnosis of chondrosarcoma.
One week later — next Tuesday — Brooks will undergo surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital at Anschutz to remove a tumor the size of a cantaloupe that grew from his spine.
Colleagues, neighbors, friends and family gathered with messages of hope and healing.
In thanking them for their support, Brooks held back tears.
“My calling in life is to serve others. To see you all out here serving me and my family is humbling,” Brooks said.
Brooks, his wife, and their three children are coping with the challenge ahead.
“I’m a survivor,” Brooks said. “I’m going to do it.”
The otherwise healthy and active 37-year-old wants to raise awareness that a cancer diagnosis can happen to anyone.
“Cancer does not discriminate,” said Brooks. “And you need to get regular checkups. If something doesn’t feel right in your body, go get a checkup and take care of it so that you don’t get into this position that I’m in.”
The Whittier Neighborhood Association in the district Brooks serves organized a circle of prayer for his recovery.
“Albus has done so much for our community. He works tirelessly. He’s up early, he’s home late. And it’s really time for us to give back to him,” said Allison Rankin, a member of the neighborhood association board.
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb attended the gathering.
“Albus, for you, I know that you’re going to come back even much stronger,” said Webb, of Brooks’ upcoming surgery.
Webb shared his own struggle with the diagnosis and handed over his cancer survivor medal to Brooks.
“I’m going to wear it into surgery until they make me take it off,” said Brooks.
After surgery, Brooks will be on medical leave for four to six weeks.
And he has big plans for his return. Brooks said that getting diagnosed with cancer has made him more passionate about advocating for health care that he says is a right.
He said that he was already in discussion about the topic with Colorado’s senators.