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Rob Ford, second from left, gets a hug from Councillor Vincent Crisanti as well-wishers look on during a break in a council meeting at Toronto's City Hall on April 2, 2015.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will go ahead with surgery next month after doctors told him that the tumour in his abdomen has shrunk down to about five by four centimetres.

Mr. Ford's announcement on Thursday, which he made on the sidewalk outside Mount Sinai Hospital, comes amid a rocky battle against liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer. In recent weeks, the controversial Mr. Ford told reporters that if the tumour did not shrink to a size small enough to operate on soon, he would not survive another year.

"I got good news today," Mr. Ford told reporters outside the hospital. "The good news is they can operate because the tumour has shrunk. … I'm very, very happy, delighted."

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Mr. Ford will undergo four surgical procedures in an operation expected to last eight to 10 hours, he said. After that, he will stay in hospital for two weeks, and then be "out of commission" for about four months. A tumour in his back, he said, has "almost disappeared."

Mr. Ford received his diagnosis last September. He has had chemotherapy and extensive radiation treatment. But despite the treatments, doctors until recently said the tumour – which was originally about 13 centimetres – was still too large to operate on.

"I didn't sleep much last night," Mr. Ford said on Thursday after learning the news. "People have ups and downs and everything, but when your life's on the line, everything else is sort of really minor in comparison to not knowing whether you're going to live or not. … I'm just lucky to be alive today, and I'm just lucky to be getting another chance at life."

The former mayor's brother Doug Ford stood at his side for the announcement – which happened shortly after the family learned the news themselves. "I'm feeling positive," Doug Ford told reporters. "I'm so happy for Rob, and I just want him to get better."

Rob Ford's diagnosis came in the ninth month of his bid for re-election as mayor, putting a sudden end to his mayoral campaign. Doug Ford ran in his place, but came in second to John Tory.

The diagnosis also followed a tumultuous year for Mr. Ford, in which he admitted smoking crack cocaine, was stripped of his powers as mayor, and attempted a comeback campaign after rehab.

Since January, Mr. Ford has been serving as city councillor for an Etobicoke ward. Right after his Mount Sinai announcement, he returned to City Hall, where his colleagues on council welcomed him with hugs, and a round of applause.

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In a statement, Mayor Tory said: "On behalf of all Torontonians, I offer thoughts, prayers and good wishes to Councillor Ford and his family. We are all hoping for the very best and looking forward to him being back at full strength and good health as soon as possible."

His sometime-ally Giorgio Mammoliti wished him well, too. "It just shows that God is looking over him," he said. "The guy's strong and he's been able to deal with everything in his life, all the demons that have plagued him, he's been able to get over almost every one of them."

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