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Gary Agopian, Antioch City Council candidate photographed in Martinez, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010. (Jim Stevens/Staff)

ANTIOCH -- City Councilman Gary Agopian announced Wednesday he had been diagnosed with brain cancer but said he plans to continue to serve his community.

Agopian said Wednesday night he will be undergoing further testing next week to determine the exact nature of his diagnosis and to lay out his treatment options.

Despite the news, Agopian said he is remaining positive and the outpouring of support from the Antioch community has been incredible.

"I have literally lost track of all the Facebook messages ... there are literally hundreds of people all praying and pulling for us," he said. "It's a decision we have to face. But all these people are willing to help us and be with us every step of the way."

Fellow councilmember Mary Rocha, who met Agopian when he was elected to the city council three years ago, said though she and Agopian don't always see eye to eye on policy, he is an "excellent" councilmember who is always thorough in his research and who speaks his mind.

"He grows on you," she said. "I tell him 'I might not have liked you at the beginning, but I love you now.'"

The difficult diagnosis comes shortly after Agopian celebrated the birth of his first grandchild, a girl, who was born just over a week ago.

A Los Angeles native, Agopian moved to Antioch with his wife and three children in 1995 and was elected to the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees in 2004. He won a seat on the City Council in 2010; he said Wednesday night that he plans to stay on and represent his city.


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"I want to stay on and I want to be there do the job I was elected to do," he said. "I will not back off of that."

Though the news is still fresh, Agopian vowed to stay positive, because "the only chance we have is to stay positive."

"I'm realistic about it," he said of the struggle ahead. "I know what the risks are. My life has an end date. So I just have to deal with that and rely on medicine and my God to get through this."

Contact Katie Nelson at knelson@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow her at Twitter.com/katienelson210.