04/02/2015 03:10 EDT | Updated 06/02/2015 05:59 EDT

Rob Ford To Have Surgery In May To Remove Cancerous Tumour

David Cooper via Getty Images
TORONTO, ON- DECEMBER 2 Former Mayor Rob Ford leaves the chambers after Mayor John Tory delivered his first speech to council as mayor of Toronto December 2, 2014. (David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO - An ailing Rob Ford said Thursday he will undergo intensive surgery aimed at removing a cancerous tumour from his abdomen in May.

Following a meeting with his doctors, the former mayor said they had told him the growth had shrunk enough from several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation to operate.

"The good news is they can operate because the tumour has shrunk," Ford said outside the hospital.

"I'm just lucky to be alive today and I'm just lucky that I'm getting another chance at life."

The tumour had not shrunk as much as hoped and was still a significant size of about 5.6 by 5.3 by 4.5 centimetres — roughly half of what it was when he started therapy six months ago.

As a result, it's going to be a "very serious operation" in which two surgeons will make two incisions of about 30 centimetres each in an effort to remove the malignancy.

The surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital slated for May 11 — four surgeons will be on hand — is expected to last up to 10 hours and is expected to put him out of commission for as long as four months, a subdued Ford said.

Another tumour, in his back, had "pretty well disappeared," he said.

"When your life's on the line, everything's really sort of minor," Ford said. "At least I have a chance."

Ford, whose admitted drug and alcohol abuse and outrageous behaviour earned him international notoriety, was forced out of his mayoral re-election bid last September when doctors discovered his rare, aggressive malignant liposarcoma.

The type of cancer — only about one per cent of cancers are similar — arises from fat cells and can attack a variety of soft tissue in the body.

Ford said he felt some relief knowing doctors are optimistic and prepared to operate.

Despite undergoing treatment, he put his name on the ballot for councillor in his west-end ward and was elected. He has attended council meetings and earlier in the week apologized for various racist slurs he made as mayor.

Ford's brother, Doug Ford, ran for mayor in his stead by lost to John Tory.

"I'm feeling positive and I'm just so happy for Rob and I just want him to get better," Doug Ford said. "May the 11, Rob will have the operation and I'll help the constituents after that."

The former mayor said the anti-cancer treatment had been extremely rough but said he would do it again.

He expressed gratitude for an outpouring of public support.

"We're fighting and I can't thank the people enough," he said.

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