Ailing Rob Ford thanks supporters, endorses brother's mayoral bid

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he's thankful for the support he's received from his family and the public, as he prepares to enter treatment for a malignant tumour that has been discovered in his abdomen.

'I am humbled by your overwhelming kindness and support,' mayor says

Toronto's ailing mayor releases audio statement before starting his chemotherapy for cancer 3:14

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he's thankful for the support he's received from his family and the public, as he prepares to enter treatment for a malignant tumour in his abdomen.

"Thank you to the great 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 your concern and offer prayers," Ford said in an audio statement released Thursday afternoon.

  • CBC viewers can hear the mayor's statement by clicking on the video at the top of this page

In the statement, Ford also appeals to voters to support his brother Doug Ford, who has replaced him in the mayoral race.

"Last week, I asked my brother to carry the torch and continue the work that we started together," Rob Ford said. "I'm happy that he’s agreed. Toronto needs Doug Ford as mayor."

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has released an audio statement, ahead of the start of his chemotherapy treatment for a malignant tumour. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The statement is hosted on his brother's campaign website.

Outside the hospital on Thursday, Doug Ford said his campaign will start Friday.

"What makes Rob feel better is me out there campaigning. I'm going to go to his hospital room right now and he's going to give me heck for going in there and not going door knocking," he said.  "I just want to make sure Rob gets through his treatment today and we're ready to go."

Mayor to start chemotherapy

The mayor dropped out of the race last week after doctors discovered a tumour in his abdomen. He has since been diagnosed with liposarcoma.

Dr. Zane Cohen told reporters on Wednesday that the mayor would begin chemotherapy within two days. According to Rob Ford's statement, the process will be starting soon.

Doug Ford, seen outside Mount Sinai Hospital on Wednesday, is running for mayor in place of his ailing brother. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

"In a few hours, I will begin my chemotherapy. Then I will spend the next little while with my family focused on getting better," said Ford.

With a croaking voice, Ford also spoke of his resolve in the face of cancer.

"With the love and support of my family and my friends and the people of Toronto, I know I'll beat this terrible disease," Ford said.

"I am determined to face this head-on and return strong for my family and for my city."

Ford also thanked his wife.

"Most importantly, I want to thank my lovely, caring wife, Renata, who has been with me and by my side from day one," he said.

'Never, ever give up'

He also had a message for other cancer patients.

"My heart goes out to anyone facing similar health battles and to your families who are standing strong behind you," Ford said.

Mayor Rob Ford's wife, Renata, is seen arriving at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto on Wednesday, hours before doctors revealed he had been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer known as malignant liposarcoma. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

"But friends, please, please, never give up. Be strong, stay positive and never, ever give up."

When addressing the media on Wednesday night, Cohen said that Ford's cancer is rare and aggressive.

"It comprises about one per cent only of all cancers," said Cohen.

Cohen said the mayor's tumour is approximately 12 by 12 centimetres in size. Doctors have also found a "small nodule" in the mayor's buttock, behind his left hip.

Ford, 45, was elected as the city's mayor in 2010. Before that, he spent a decade serving as a city councillor in Etobicoke.

His term as mayor has been dominated by controversy, particularly in the last year after a drug-related scandal in which Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine and become a worldwide celebrity in the process.

Earlier this year, Ford spent two months in rehab after pictures surfaced showing him holding a crack pipe. He returned to work at the end of June and resumed his campaign for re-election.

With files from The Associated Press