Rob Ford, Toronto Mayor and popular political character best known for some outrageous behaviors and dabbling in drugs, has just received the unfortunate news that the tumor in his abdomen, discovered last week, is an aggressive tumor.
Though obviously rocked by the news, Ford is reportedly ready to battle the cancer, according to his brother, and doctors are keeping an optimistic outlook as they consider Mayor Ford’s treatment and long term prognosis, reports the Canadian Press.
“Rob has always been so strong for all of us and now I ask us all to be strong for him,” Rob Ford’s brother, Doug, said in a statement which he issued very shortly after a doctor made the mayor’s diagnosis known.
“I can’t begin to share how devastating this has been for Rob and our family,” continued Doug Ford. “He is an incredible person, husband, father, brother and son and he remains upbeat and determined to fight this.”
Making the announcement to a buzzing and crowded news conference, Dr. Zane Cohen of Mount Sinai Hospital said Rob Ford’s tumor was a malignant liposarcoma. The type of cancer, which makes up about one percent of all cancers, stems from fat cells and often also goes after other soft tissues in the body, according to Dr. Zane.
“It has about 60 different cell types and that’s what makes it a very rare tumor and a very difficult tumor,” said Dr. Cohen.
As for any estimation of survival rates for Ford’s type of cancer, Dr. Zane declined to answer.
Regardless, the medical team on board with Mayor Ford to fight the tumor are taking it head-on and very aggressively, according to Dr. Cohen. Two rounds of chemotherapy will be administered over the next 40 days at which point Ford’s health and progress will be reassessed.
“We are optimistic about treatment,” said Dr. Cohen. “This particular liposarcoma is more sensitive to chemotherapy than most sarcomas, that is an optimistic statement in and of itself.”
At the same time, the speed at which the tumor has apparently grown was acknowledged and considered unusual by Dr. Cohen. Rob Ford was given a clean bill of health in 2011, so the tumor is believed to have developed into its current 10 x 10 cm mass since then.
“We think it’s a fairly aggressive tumor, mainly because these types of tumors are often slow growing,” explained Dr. Cohen. “To get to the size that it is now it’s often a couple of years….So it’s fairly aggressive.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his thoughts and prayers, on behalf of all Canadians, to Rob Ford and his family, which includes two young children.
“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.”
Oncologist Dr. Jeff Rothenstein of Lakeridge Health in Oshawa, Ontario, explained there isn’t a “cookie cutter” approach to treating Ford’s type of cancer, reports CTV News.
“It’s a very unique tumour in each individual, and that’s why you have very specialized teams looking after these patients,” Rothenstein told CTV News.
Rothenstein also noted that Rob Ford’s type of cancer has nothing to do with his lifestyle or other personal health factors.
“In terms of lifestyle, diet … those are really not well-associated,” he said.
Mayor Ford has been in the hospital since last week following severe abdominal pains. The pains had been plaguing Ford for about three months before he finally got them checked out last week.