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Albus Brooks's Cancer Is Back

A Facebook portrait of Denver City Council president Albus Brooks.
A Facebook portrait of Denver City Council president Albus Brooks.
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Denver City Council president Albus Brooks, who had surgery for cancer in 2016, has revealed the recurrence of the disease. Surgery to remove a newly discovered tumor is scheduled for the first week of May.

Brooks's announcement came via Twitter and his Denver City Council Facebook page, where he posted this:

Nearly two years ago I was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare form of skeletal cancer. One year later my family and I celebrated a full year being cancer free. Today, I write to share some difficult news.

During a recent check up this month, doctors found another small tumor. In 2016 the tumor in my body was the size of a cantaloupe; this one is the size of a grape. My surgery to remove the tumor is scheduled for the first week of May, after which I will be recovering for two weeks at home.

I share this news with you the same week that I will be a guest speaker at CancerCon, a conference uniting young adult patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates. While this recent update certainly changes a few details in my life, it definitely does not change my message of hope and resilience.

My story is not defined by cancer, yet cancer has shown me the powerful beauty of human capacity.

Like the capacity of individual grit when forced to fight for your life. Cancer does not discriminate, and I’ve met countless people who have had to engage in this same capacity for resilience in their own fight. My strength comes from those that have suffered and survived, as well as those who have lost their lives.

More than anything else, I have witnessed the capacity my family has to love fully. Their capacity to bring me joy and peace knows no limits, and it is with them that I will find my greatest encouragement in coming months.

It is in that spirit that I ask for Denver to keep me in your prayers. But not just me — there are people in our community that are going through the same thing, but don’t have the public position or fancy title. Because of this, they are often more alone. Don’t forget about them.

Brooks and the rest of Denver City Council at a March meeting.
Brooks and the rest of Denver City Council at a March meeting.
Denver7 via YouTube

Recently, Brooks has found himself in the center of the storm created by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's inappropriate texts to Denver police detective Leslie Branch-Wise during the 2011-2012 period when she was on his security detail. The council president was front and center on March 13, when the council declared that it wouldn't investigate Hancock for possible sexual harassment, among other things, only to subsequently direct the body's legal counsel to "develop a proposal for a potential investigation" after Branch-Wise publicly asked for such an inquiry.

A couple of weeks later, on April 2, Brooks confirmed that he and his colleagues had decided against a Hancock investigation after all. His statement reads in part: "Since we are not the judicial branch, we are unable to make a legal conclusion about the Mayor’s conduct and there are no disputed facts. In 2013, Detective Branch-Wise waived any opportunity to pursue the legal process where these types of legal conclusions are typically made. Furthermore, the request for an open investigation would be problematic under state law confidentiality requirements."

The stress of this controversy didn't seem to be affecting Brooks physically; I saw him behind the scenes at the St. Patrick's Day parade, and he looked happy, vital and strong. And in his Facebook announcement, he sounds upbeat and positive that he'll make a complete recovery; last time around, he told an audience last August, he developed and subsequently overcame a dependence on opioids during the recovery process.

Brooks chose to make his announcement on Facebook, even though he's had an often-tumultuous relationship with social media. In February, a nonprofit filed a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office arguing that a tweet from Brooks's official council Twitter account about a birthday party used city resources to promote his 2019 reelection campaign. And the following month, he announced that he had decided to delete his personal Facebook as of April 1 because of concerns about the service, saying, "Facebook is only as valuable as its ability to connect us with one another in ways that add meaning to our lives. By eliminating barriers and building bridges, Facebook has the potential to radically change the world for good.... We crave connection more than convenient advertising. We crave conversation more than echo-chambers. We crave being truly seen more than we crave likes."

By going public — albeit on his council Facebook — about his current condition, Brooks is definitely connecting with anyone who's faced the horrors of cancer.

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