TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was diagnosed with a tumour Wednesday after seeking treatment hours earlier for “unbearable” abdominal pain.
The medical development, which was abruptly announced by a city hospital, pushed the controversial politician into the spotlight for a reason far removed from the profanity-laced rants and admissions of drug use that have typically placed him in the headlines
“He was having left-lower-quadrant abdominal pain … it’s been going on for more than three months but today it became unbearable for him,” Humber River Hospital CEO Dr. Rueben Devlin said at a hastily-called press conference Wednesday night.
“Examination and investigation today revealed that he has a tumour. The mayor has been admitted to Humber River Hospital to allow for further investigation to obtain a definitive diagnosis.”
Related from Maclean’s:
Ford’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, said the mayor was coping well.
“He’s in good spirits and just thanks everyone for all the well wishes,” the older Ford said, adding that his 45-year-old brother hadn’t complained of his abdominal pain to him in the past.
“He had stomach pain, I had breakfast with him today over at Perkins and he said his stomach was bothering him. He went to the doctor’s and then the doctor sent him over to Humber and we’re here today.”
The mayor will be kept in hospital over the next few days as tests are conducted to determine more details about the tumour, Devlin said, adding that it was a CT scan which brought physicians to their early diagnosis.
“He’s being investigated further and we need to determine exactly what type of tumour it is and then we can decide on what treatment is required,” Devlin said.
“It wasn’t a small tumour but the size is not as relevant as what it is … What we really need is biopsy to be able to determine what type of tumour it is. And also to investigate to see if the tumour is anywhere else.”
A tumour is a mass, a growth of abnormal cells. Some are benign, meaning they are not cancerous while others are malignant or cancerous.
Benign tumours typically are localized; malignant tumours can spread or metastasize, triggering secondary cancers in other parts of the body.
Rob Ford is running for re-election in the city’s Oct. 27 municipal vote. His brother wouldn’t comment how the tumour diagnosis might impact his campaign.
The tumour diagnosis came just over two months after the mayor returned to office following a self-imposed stint in rehab for substance abuse issues.
The latest news drew a flurry of reaction, including responses from some of those vying to replace Ford in office.
“While you may see us debating, we are also human beings. Rob Ford is a husband, father, son and brother and I want to see him back in good health as soon as possible,” John Tory, who was once leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party said in a statement.
Former NDP MP Olivia Chow, who is also running against Ford, said her “thoughts and prayers” were with the mayor. Deputy mayor Norm Kelly wished Ford a “quick and healthy recovery.”
Kelly assumed many of Ford’s duties ever since the mayor was stripped of most of his powers in November following his admissions of alcohol abuse and drug use during “drunken stupors.”
Those admissions came after months of denials and were followed by the surfacing of videos which appeared to show the mayor making offensive and profane comments.
The mayor apologized to those hurt by his words and actions, saying he regretted some of his past choices but said he blamed no one but himself for his misconduct.
He also told a business audience last week that he wished he’d checked into rehab years earlier.
Ford likened his struggles with addiction to a battle with “the man in the mirror,” and said he finally realized that the only way to win his fight was by seeking professional help.
The mayor has provided much fodder for late-night TV shows and has even appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Over time, however, many of the television comedians who have mocked him have seemed to genuinely wish him well as he sought help to deal with his substance-abuse issues.
The mayor has also been the subject of a months-long police investigation, although no charges have been brought against him.
—with files from Will Campbell