Rob Ford cancer diagnosis prompts rival response

Sep 17, 2014 | News

Article by Kathleen Jolly, Adam Stroud and Ari Perlin-Bain
Video report by Marielle Torrefranca, Karina Nowysz and Vick Karunakaran

UPDATE: Rob Ford has released an audio statement about his diagnosis. More information here.

Rob Ford’s diagnosis is in, and the news is grim.

It was announced Wednesday shortly after 5 p.m. by Dr. Zane Cohen of Mt Sinai Hospital that Ford has malignant liposarcoma, a cancer that attacks the fatty tissue, nerves, muscles and connective tissue. It comprises less than one per cent of all cancers, Cohen said.

Dr. Zane Cohen gives a press conference at Mount Sinai hospital, says Rob Ford has rare cancer.

Dr. Zane Cohen gives a press conference at Mount Sinai hospital, says Rob Ford has rare cancer. (Vick Karunakaran / Humber News)

He said the tumour found in Rob Ford’s abdomen is around 12 centimeters by 12 centimeters. Another much smaller tumour was found in his left buttock.

“We think it’s a fairly aggressive tumour mainly because these types of tumours are slow growing. To get to the size it is now, it’s often several years,” he said.

Despite the diagnosis Cohen said he is optimistic Ford will be able to beat the cancer through treatment.

Cohen would not give estimates about Ford’s change of recovery. The Toronto Star is reporting that liposarcoma has a five-year survival rate of 56 per cent.

Ford will undergo three days of chemotherapy at Mt. Sinai hospital followed by an 18 day “washout period.” Afterwards imaging will be used to measure the effectiveness of the treatment.

“Depending on the response, it will depend on what we do next,” Cohen said.

Cohen said radiation, surgery or further cycles of chemotherapy may be necessary.


Shortly after the announcement at Mt. Sinai, Rob Ford’s political rivals Olivia Chow and John Tory held a press conference behind city hall.

Chow wore a yellow blazer. She said it was a symbol of hope that Ford will overcome his diagnosis.

“Since Mr. Ford is so strong and he’s such a good fighter, I hope he can win this battle against cancer,” she said.

John Tory also said Ford’s fighting spirit will help him beat his disease.

“Now that he is in the fight of his life I know all Torontonians are pulling for him,” he said.

Despite Rob Ford’s cancer both Chow and Tory said their mayoral campaign will press on. Chow said she will not hesitate to campaign against Doug Ford even after his brother’s diagnosis.

Olivia Chow speaks outside of Toronto City Hall. (Adam Stroud/Humber News)

Olivia Chow speaks outside of Toronto City Hall. (Adam Stroud/Humber News)

“I’m not running against the person, I’m running against the idea,” she said. “It’s not just about the person.”

John Tory echoed Chow’s sentiment.

“It isn’t about a person as much as it’s about an approach to leadership. It’s about a set of policies, a set of ideas,” he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that he was saddened to learn of Ford’s cancer diagnosis.

“The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with Mr. Ford and his family at this difficult time.

“We wish him a speedy and complete recovery and are certain that he will take on this fight with all of his characteristic tenacity and energy,” he said.

Nobody from the Ford family was present at the announcement at Mt. Sinai, but they were spotted at the scene in the hours leading up to it.

The family has not spoken to media at this time, but Doug Ford has said in a statement that they are devastated by the news.

“Rob has always been so strong for all of us and now I ask us all to be strong for him,” he said.

Effect on the campaign

It is still too early to determine what effect this news will have on Doug Ford’s bid for mayor.

Nelson Wiseman, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said in his opinion the diagnosis will not have a significant impact on the election results.

Wiseman said that Doug Ford may likely see a small bump in the polls but it will not last.

“This situation doesn’t matter… Doug Ford will still remain in the low 20’s, that’s what I think,” he said.

Mayor Ford is still in the race for city councilor in Ward 2, Etobicoke North. The mayoral election will be held on October 27. Rob Ford will remain in hospital past the election date.