Councilman Albus Brooks took his place as the newly elected president of the Denver City Council Monday with some special appreciation for what it means just to be able to show up for work.
Brooks is back after a five-week leave of absence for cancer treatments that included two surgeries that took a collective 17 hours and seven days in the hospital. During his treatments, he also lost his father unexpectedly.
During his absence, his colleagues elected him as their new president.
Brooks was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer after he visited a chiropractor for some unresolved pain in his psoas muscle after running the Bolder Boulder 10K. The chiropractor noticed a mass and told him to visit his doctor.
He took a moment of personal privilege at the start of the meeting to urge people to visit their doctor regularly and not think that exercising and eating right would be enough to protect them.
“It happened to me,” he said. “What it taught me is that cancer can be contracted by anyone, and it is critically important that we get check-ups. You do not feel cancer. It just kills you slowly.”
Catching it early was key to his successful treatment, Brooks said.
“I am living proof that this does not have to kill you,” he said.
Brooks choked up as he discussed the loss of his father.
“I lost my best friend, my dad, in the middle of this, but the good news is that I live out his legacy daily,” he said.
The Denver Post’s Jon Murray had a nice piece this weekend about Brooks’ treatment and the task in front of him as council president. It’s worth a read if you haven’t already.