Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with malignant liposarcoma, a rare type of cancer, his doctor confirmed on Wednesday.
“We are treating this very aggressively,” said Dr. Zane Cohen at Mount Sinai Hospital, where Ford is currently seeking treatment.
Liposarcoma is a rare form of cancer that affects the body’s connective tissues, specifically in areas that resemble fat cells. It comprises approximately one per cent of all cancers.
Ford’s tumour is described as “fairly aggressive” and measures 12 cm by 12 cm in size. Doctors also found a small nodule in the left buttock, which Cohen confirmed is a part of the same tumour.
The mayor will start chemotherapy in the hospital within the next few days, and Cohen said doctors are treating the tumour "very aggressively" in order to eradicate it.
"Of course everyone knows that chemotherapy is chemotherapy and he's going to have tough days. But I think he'll have more good days than bad days," Cohen said about Ford’s treatment plan and recovery.
He said radiation and surgery could be involved in Ford's treatment further down the line.
Cohen told reporters that doctors did not find cancer in any of Ford's organs. A U.S. expert on this type of cancer told the Canadian Press that's a good sign, but the fact Ford will immediately undergo chemotherapy indicates that it is a serious, life-threatening problem.
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The mayor’s brother, councillor Doug Ford, issued a statement commenting on the cancer diagnosis.
My brother has been diagnosed with cancer and I can’t begin to share how devastating this has been for Rob and our family.
He is an incredible person, husband, father, brother and son and he remains upbeat and determined to fight this.
Rob has always been so strong for all of us and now I ask us all to be strong for him.
Your kind words and well wishes mean everything to him right now.
Rob will beat this.
On behalf of Rob, this wife Renata, their children, and the entire Ford family, thank you all so much for your continued support and prayers.
Outside City Hall, mayoral candidates John Tory and Olivia Chow spoke to reporters, both offering words of support and an appeal to Torontonians to “show solidarity.”
The looming municipal election was not far from mind.
“It's up to Doug Ford to decide whether he needs to be with his brother or whether he wants to proceed with the mayoralty campaign,” Chow said.
Earlier in the week, despite early hints about a bleak prognosis, Ford was still working, calling constituents from his hospital bed on Monday. On the topic of his health, the mayor offered an update to the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington, admitting he was feeling “not too good.”
“He is pretty down in the dumps,” Doug said of his brother’s mood to Sun News.
Ford’s re-election bid came to an abrupt end on Friday after he withdrew his name from Toronto’s high-profile mayoral race.
“My heart is heavy when I tell you that I’m unable to continue my campaign for re-election as your Mayor,” Ford said in a statement addressed to Torontonians.
Ford’s decision to drop out of the race opened a space for Doug to step in, taking his brother’s spot on the ballot.
“Doug loves our city as much as I do. He believes that standing up for the average person and watching the bottom line are what matters most at City Hall,” said Ford at the time.
Doug has yet to start his mayoral campaign, and said last week he wanted to wait until his brother had a clearer diagnosis. But a website and several social media accounts have been launched to support the campaign.
The mayor was hospitalized on Sept. 10 after complaints about "unbearable" stomach pain lead to the discovery of an abdominal tumour. A series of tests and biopsies were ordered to determine a more conclusive diagnosis.
Ford’s exit came as a surprising twist to most Torontonians. He had only days earlier promised to continue to serve as the city’s mayor for another 14 years at a debate.
“I will never quit being the best mayor this city ever has. And I’m very, very proud to say that,” Ford said to crowd at a Royal Canadian Legion branch on Sept. 5.
Ford gained international notoriety last year after a video of the mayor smoking crack surfaced, prompting him to admit use of the drug months later. A series of guest appearances on late-night TV talk shows and celebrity visits to City Hall continued to keep him in international headlines.
Toronto voters head to polls on Oct. 27.
With files from the Canadian Press
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