Toronto mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, his doctor announced during a press conference on Wednesday.
"It is a difficult and very rare type of tumor," Dr. Zane Cohen, a colorectal surgeon in charge of Ford's medical team, said. He classified Ford's cancer as "a malignant liposarcoma" and said the mayor had "fairly aggressive tumors" in his abdomen and buttocks, the National Post reports.
Dr. Cohen added that he is "optimistic" Ford could recover through chemotherapy treatment.
Ford was hospitalized last Wednesday after he had severe abdominal pain. On Thursday, doctors found a "significant mass" in his abdomen.
"I can't begin to share how devastating this has been for Rob and our family," his brother Doug Ford said in a statement released Wednesday. "He is an incredible person, husband, father, brother and son and he remains upbeat and determined to fight this. Rob has always been strong for all of us and I ask us all to be strong for him."
On Friday, Ford announced he was dropping out of the Toronto mayoral race and that Doug Ford would run in his place.
On Thursday, Ford released the following audio statement from the hospital, thanking his family and the public for the support, along with endorsing his brother Doug to be the next mayor of Toronto.
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.