03/18/2016 11:15 EDT | Updated 03/19/2017 01:12 EDT

Rob Ford tributes pile up as ailing former Toronto mayor battles cancer

Toronto Mayor John Tory this morning joined a list of well-wishers sending messages to Coun. Rob Ford as the former mayor battles cancer in hospital surrounded by his family.

Tory, who clashed with Ford during the 2014 mayoral campaign before health reasons forced Ford out of the race, said on Twitter this morning his thoughts are with Ford "as he continues to battle cancer."

Canadian hip-hop icon Maestro also offered his support.

There were also more than 3,300 messages posted on a website the family set up to gather well-wishes for Ford.

His office issued a statement Thursday in response to social media rumours that Ford had died.

The statement said Ford remains in hospital "with his family beside him "as he continues to battle against cancer."

Ford's office asked for privacy and said it would issue a news release if there are any further updates regarding the Ward 2 councillor's health.

Earlier this month, Doug Ford said his brother was pursuing a targeted chemotherapy under the Panov program at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

The treatment involves implanting a piece of tissue from a patient's tumour into mice, which then will take about three months to grow in the rodents. Researchers then test different chemotherapy treatments on the mice to see which drugs are most effective in decreasing the size of the tumours. 

Rob Ford, 46, was hospitalized last October for several days and later revealed he had a growth on his bladder. In November, his brother Doug Ford confirmed Rob had two tumours on his bladder.

Ford underwent aggressive cancer surgery last spring to remove an abdominal tumour after he was diagnosed with liposarcoma — a cancer that grows in fat cells.