03/18/2016 12:51 EDT | Updated 03/19/2017 01:12 EDT

Messages of support, well-wishes pour in for Rob Ford as mayor battles cancer

TORONTO — Messages of support are pouring in for Rob Ford as the former Toronto mayor goes through 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 and was asking for privacy while thanking well-wishers for their support.

A number of public figures have since issued statements saying their thoughts are with Ford, including Toronto mayor John Tory and former Ontario premier Bob Rae.

Rob Ford's nephew, Michael Ford, also tweeted out his thanks today for the public's prayers and thoughts, saying the family "very much appreciated" the support.

City councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, a staunch ally to the controversial Ford, has also asked for prayers for the 46-year-old.

He asked the public today to remember "how powerful" Ford is and once was.

Notes of support were also pouring in on a "get-well-soon" website set up for Ford, which had more than 3,800 comments by Friday afternoon.

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.

The Canadian Press