Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, battling an aggressive type of cancer in the city’s Mount Sinai Hospital, has been sedated to help deal with his pain, his chief of staff said on Monday.
In recent weeks, speculation has swirled around the health of Mr. Ford, who now serves as a city councillor. His staff were forced last week to deny rumours on social media that he had died.
On Monday, his chief of staff, Dan Jacobs, told The Globe and Mail that reports that Mr. Ford, 46, had been moved into a palliative-care unit were mistaken.
“He has not been transferred from the room he’s been in, he’s in the same wing he’s been for all his chemo treatments,” Mr. Jacobs said in an e-mail, adding that “there’s been no change in his condition since we released a statement in response to false reports of his passing.”
Public concern about Mr. Ford’s condition grew after his brother, Doug Ford, told local news outlet CP24 on March 2 that Rob was back in hospital facing a “real fight.” He also said Rob was taking part in an experimental cancer treatment that involves implanting his cancer into mice and then testing chemotherapies on the animals.
Mr. Ford has been in hospital ever since. But a week later, Mr. Jacobs confirmed that his boss was still conscious and alert, even signing documents in his hospital bed.
Then, last week, after rumours surfaced on Twitter about Mr. Ford, Mr. Jacobs issued a statement saying that the former mayor was in hospital “with his family beside him,” pleading for privacy and thanking supporters for their prayers and best wishes.
Mr. Jacobs told reporters last week that Mr. Ford’s cancer had not responded to his last round of chemotherapy, and that his doctors were allowing him to rest and regain his strength before trying more treatment.
Almost 6,500 people have left comments wishing the former mayor well on a website set up by his family, www.getwellrobford.com.
In recent days, both political allies and adversaries have expressed concern and best wishes for Mr. Ford, including former mayor David Miller and current mayor John Tory.
“My prayers have been with him from the beginning,” Mr. Tory told The Globe and Mail on Monday. “I went to visit him a week or so ago. I’m rooting for him like everybody else is. These are tough battles that lots of Canadians know about, and their families, and we’re rooting for him and for his family at a very difficult time.”
After several rounds of chemotherapy, doctors removed a tumour from Mr. Ford’s abdomen in May. But later last year, it emerged that Mr. Ford had two more tumours, and he began chemotherapy again. In recent weeks, he has not been seen at city hall, missing the budget debate last month.
Mr. Ford, whose mayoral record was marred by a long list of scandals including the revelation of his crack use, dropped his 2014 bid for re-election when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called pleomorphic liposarcoma.
His brother, Doug Ford, took his place as a mayoral candidate, losing the mayoralty to Mr. Tory. Rob Ford won his bid to retake his city council seat in Ward 2, Etobicoke, in the city’s west end.