Ford diagnosed with rare cancer, releases first public statement

On Sept. 17, doctors confirmed for the public that the tumour discovered in Rob Ford’s abdomen last week is in fact a rare form of cancer, malignant liposarcoma. Dr. Zane Cohen, a colorectal surgeon and the doctor in charge of Ford’s treatment at Mt. Sinai Hospital, said the mayor will have to go through at least a month or more of chemotherapy to try and destroy the tumour.

“It’s fairly aggressive, but we are treating this very aggressively in order to eradicate the tumour,” Zane told reporters. Cohen said the cancer has already spread with another tumour found in the mayor’s buttocks. However, it is the nature of the cancer that is particularly worrying.

“It comprises one per cent only of all cancers. It’s in the tissue such as fatty tissue, blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, [and] muscle. It has 60 different cell types and that’s what makes it a very rare tumour and very difficult tumour,” Cohen added.

Doctors are giving Ford two rounds of chemotherapy treatment, each three days long. After the two rounds the mayor will spend 18 days resting at home before returning to hospital. Cohen’s team will then reexamine the tumour to decide if further chemotherapy is needed or if the mayor must undergo surgery to try and remove it.

Just after being admitted to hospital, Ford registered to run as a councillor in Ward 2 (Etobicoke North), while his brother, Doug Ford, took his place in the mayoral race. Despite his condition, Cohen says he still thinks Ford can continue with his campaign.

“I think he’s a pretty strong person,” Cohen said. “He may be able to work through it. I think that he will be able to be functional, but he’s going to have some rough days.”

On Sept. 18, Ford released an audio message, his first public statement since being diagnosed with cancer. The mayor was audible but his voice was hoarse and cracked. Ford begins saying he is only hours away from chemotherapy treatment. The full transcript of the mayor’s statement has been provided here.

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FORD’S STATEMENT

In a few hours I will begin my chemotherapy. Then I will spend the next little while, with my family, focused on getting better. But, I would like to speak directly to the people in our city before I do that. Let me start by saying thank you to the good people of Toronto. I am humbled by your overwhelming kindness and support. It means the world to us that so many of you have reached out to show concern and offer prayers.

I also want to thank the amazing staff at Humber River Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital for the care and compassion you have shown us. With the love and support of my family, my friends, and the people of Toronto – I will beat this!

I am determined to face this head on and return strong for my family and for my city. For the past 14 years, as Councillor and as Mayor, I have worked hard to bring about change at City Hall and make life a little bit easier for the average hard working people of Toronto. I was not alone in this, my brother Doug was by my side, sharing my vision, fighting for the great people of Toronto. I never could have accomplished what we did without him. Doug loves our city as much as I do. He’s prepared to tackle the issues head on. Last week I asked my brother to carry the torch and continue the work we started together.

I’m happy that he’s agreed. Toronto needs Doug Ford as Mayor. There’s so much at stake in this election. The city’s future and the issues facing Toronto can’t wait. So, I’m encouraging my brother to jump into this race, wholeheartedly, right now. When people get to know Doug as I do they will see a man who cares, a man with vision, integrity and determination. YOU, the people of Toronto, have been with me since day one. Now I ask you to throw your support behind Doug.

Thank you again for your ongoing support and well wishes But most importantly I want to thank my lovely, caring, wife Renata who has been with me and by my side from day one. My heart goes out to anyone facing similar health battles, and to your families who are standing strong behind you. Don’t ever give up. Be strong, stay positive and have hope – just never ever give up.

God bless all of you and all the best.

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