Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (C) and his brother Doug (2nd R) smile as they take part in the East York Canada Day Parade, July 1, 2014.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (C) and his brother Doug (2nd R) smile as they take part in the East York Canada Day Parade, July 1, 2014.

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has battled back from alcohol abuse and a drug scandal — but his latest battle could be his toughest.

Ford will undergo 40 days of chemotherapy to treat a rare form of cancer known as liposarcoma, a faster growing type of tumor affecting the fatty tissues in the body, like blood vessels, nerves, and muscles. He’s been hospitalized for a week with a tumor in his abdomen. 

According to Dr. Zane Cohen, a colorectal surgeon at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto, the cancer is spreading and that they have found “a small nodule in the buttock” near Ford’s left hip. He said the mayor will be treated with fairly intensive chemotherapeutic agents.

The cancer diagnosis has forced Ford to drop his bid for re-election in October.

He announced on Friday that he was pulling out of the mayoral race and his older brother Doug would run in his place. Rob Ford then put his name on the ballot for his old constituency on the city council.

This is Doug Ford’s first time running for mayor, but according to Robyn Doolittle, Doug Ford has been a key part of his younger brother’s administration. Doolittle is a reporter for the Globe and Mail and she’s the author of "Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story."

“He’s sort of acted as a co-mayor, in some ways, in the Ford administration,” says Doolittle. “He has no official role in the mayor’s office, but he’s been there front and center for every controversy that’s come up.”

Doolittle says that Doug doesn’t have the same appeal as Rob — and he faces an uphill battle against two other major candidates in the mayoral election.

“They are very similar politically but Rob has a really sincere, folksy charm that his brother Doug does not.”

Rob Ford has been engulfed in controversy since the Toronto Star and the US website Gawker last year reported the existence of a video apparently showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine. After months of denials, Ford admitted to using crack but refused to resign, even after Toronto's City Council stripped him of most of his powers.

News of Rob Ford’s illness has shocked Torontonians.

“Everyone here in Toronto, despite what they think of the mayor politically, is wishing he will pull through,” says Doolittle.

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