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Veteran fighting brain cancer finally gets chance to share artwork with the world

It is the story of his life, in art - art he’s sharing publicly for the first time in 50 years.

ATLANTA — The invitation into his home art studio is an invitation into the most personal parts of Columbus Cook’s life.

"These are projects that I worked on, back in the day," he tells 11Alive. "This reminds me of my childhood."

It is the story of his life, in art - art he’s sharing publicly for the first time in 50 years.

"In my mind, I'm looking at the final opportunity to finish this," he said.

Ife Williams is the executive director of the Hudgens Center for Art. She knows a stand-out talent when she sees it. 

When she saw Columbus’s Brave Conquers Fear story on 11Alive, she wanted to help share his talent and fulfill his dream.

"It looks like there is a huge story to unfold," she says.

Columbus has a GBM brain tumor. Stage 4.

He wears a device that sends signals through receptors into his brain to keep the cancer cells from growing as fast. But while the diagnosis is serious, Columbus said cancer gave him the courage to paint in the open, and to put his dream - to have a public exhibit - out there.

RELATED: He hid his art talent for 50 years. Now he's sharing it with the world as he fights brain cancer.

That's where Ife comes in, who is helping make that dream a reality.

"The different bodies of work that has gone over time, makes it interesting," Williams explains. "It is a perfect show to put in the gallery."

She is planning Columbus’ first public art exhibit - his bucket-list wish.

"It was wonderful to discover that not only did he have a great story, he had great art work to go with it," she said.

"It just made me feel good," Columbus said of first hearing the news. "I was quietly saying to myself, 'thank God.' It was very emotional for me."

He said it has been an incredible opportunity, one that will help get his artwork brought to the public after trying to hide his talent for so long. 

Columbus said at 4 years old, he was made to feel ashamed. Now, at 54, he feels he is finally being seen and appreciated.

"It belongs," Ife said.

"It means a lot," Columbus added. And it’s why, now, he can see brain cancer as a gain … not a loss.

"(I'm) proud to be able to share this ... Share this with my kids," he said. "To be able to see all of that happen is going to be very emotional."

The exhibit will take place at The Hudgens Center for Art & Learning which is located on the Infinite Energy Campus.


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