Rob Ford treated for cancer

Photo by GerardPhoto
By Gerald V. Paul

Mayor Rob Ford, seen here in happier days this summer, has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive malignant tumor. He will undergo chemotherapy.
Mayor Rob Ford, seen here in happier days this summer, has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive malignant tumor. He will undergo chemotherapy.

Rob Ford has “malignant liposarcoma, a malignant tumor that arises in fat cells in deep, soft tissue,” Dr. Zane Cohen revealed late yesterday at a media conference.

Cohen, a colorectal surgeon and senior member of Ford’s medical team at Mount Sinai Hospital, said he is “optimistic” that the mayor will respond well to treatment.

He will undergo an initial round of chemotherapy. Cohen said his response to that treatment will determine if Ford will require surgery. He said this type of cancer is rare, accounting for just one percent of cases, and aggressive. Asked at what stage the cancer is, Cohen declined to answer.

Cohen said two biopsies were needed before a firm diagnosis could be made.

Ford’s medical problems have resulted in what to all intents and purposes is a round of municipal musical chairs. His brother, Doug Ford, has taken his place on the mayoral ballot, vowing to carry on the vision, mission and cost-cutting values of his brother’s single term as mayor and now-aborted re-election campaign.

Meanwhile, Rob Ford has registered as a candidate for councilor in Ward 2, which he held before becoming mayor. In turn, the brothers’ nephew Michael Ford, who had been running in that ward for council, dropped out to accommodate his uncle and is now running for school board trustee.

Leading mayoralty candidate John Tory has previously suggested that a vote for Doug Ford, as much as his brother, would mean “four more years of his division and the chaos that we’ve seen at Toronto City Hall” and that, given his public disparagement of fellow councilors, the premier and some people in the community, “he may offer Toronto something that is worse.” Doug Ford is often seen as more combative than his brother, displaying anger with the media and others.

Mayoralty candidate Olivia Chow, running second behind Tory and ahead of Doug Ford, according to recent polls, expressed sympathy for Rob Ford.

Before the mayor’s diagnosis was made public, Chow said, “Our city needs a new mayor. Someone who understands what life is like. What it’s like caring for kids or aging parents. Taking the TTC, or struggling to find work.”

A mayoralty debate scheduled for last night with Tory and Chow was called off out of respect for Rob Ford’s diagnosis.

Toronto-born Dewitt Lee, a person of colour and considered a longshot for mayor, offered his prayers and blessings for Rob Ford. “My purpose is to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of those who are considered the least in our society. It’s about being competitive, compassionate and accountable.”

The candidacy changes by the Fords may have an effect on Andray Domise, of Jamaican heritage, who is running for the council seat in Ward 2. He stressed it’s time to do better at City Hall.

“Entrepreneurship is a core component of Ward 2. Many of our residents have poured their time and money into building successful businesses and I intend to support their growth by encouraging a Business Initiative Area.”

Even former mayor Mel Lastman has chimed in about the Fords’ shifting candidacies, saying, “I can’t believe it.” Lastman argued that Rob Ford connected “much better” with people than Doug Ford.

In light of Rob Ford’s diagnosis, at press time last night there was still no word as to when Doug Ford will start on the campaign trail.