POLITICS

Rob Ford Hospitalized During 'Difficult Time' With Cancer Battle

03/18/2016 02:07 EDT | Updated 03/18/2016 05:59 EDT

TORONTO — Messages of support are pouring in for Rob Ford as the former Toronto mayor goes through what's being called a "difficult time'' in his battle with cancer.

The city councillor's chief of staff released a statement late Thursday saying Ford's family was by the politician's side in hospital.

"The Ford family asks for privacy during this difficult time, and thank the people of Toronto and around the world for their ongoing prayers and support,'' said Dan Jacobs.

Members of the public and a number of politicians, including some who routinely disagreed with Ford when he was mayor, issued well-wishes for the 46-year-old in the aftermath of that statement.

"Thinking of Councillor @TorontoRobFord as he continues to battle cancer,'' tweeted Toronto Mayor John Tory.

"Sometimes even just grievances, along with old battles, should be set aside,'' added Coun. Josh Matlow. "I wish Rob Ford and his family my love, best wishes and strength.''

Ford was diagnosed with cancer in September 2014, less than a year after he confessed to smoking crack while in one of his "drunken stupors.''

The illness forced him to withdraw from his bid for re-election as mayor and he ran instead for a seat on city council, winning in a landslide despite his notoriety.

Ford's term as mayor featured a series of headline-grabbing antics, including slurs against minorities, lewd remarks about his sex life and his admission of serious crack cocaine and alcohol abuse.

City councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, a staunch ally to the controversial Ford, asked for those who had been critical of the former mayor to respect his privacy. He also asked for prayers for his colleague.

"He's had demons to fight and he still does and I think prayer can get him over this,'' Mammoliti said. "We'll just all sit tight and hope for the best and remember how powerful this man is and was.''

"He's had demons to fight and he still does and I think prayer can get him over this.''

Notes of support were also pouring in on a "get-well-soon'' website set up for Ford, which had more than 4,000 comments by Friday afternoon. One message wished him "the strength and courage to beat this horrible disease.''

Ford's condition also appeared to resonate with others who said they have fought cancer, with one such commenter saying "keep up the fight Rob I'm right here with you.''

Rob Ford's nephew, Michael Ford, tweeted out his thanks for the swell of prayers and thoughts for his uncle, saying the family "very much appreciate'' the support.

Ford's brother, Doug Ford, would only say his sibling was "doing OK'' as he walked into the hospital where the former mayor was being cared for.

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