March 18, 2016 1:05 pm
Updated: March 18, 2016 6:14 pm

Outpouring of support, well-wishes for Rob Ford as former mayor continues cancer battle

WATCH ABOVE: Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford remains in hospital to continue chemotherapy treatment, and his family is denying rumours that he had died. Cindy Pom reports.

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TORONTO — Messages of support are pouring in for Rob Ford as the former Toronto mayor goes through what’s being called a “difficult time” in his battle with cancer.

The city councillor’s chief of staff released a statement late Thursday saying Ford’s family was by the politician’s side in hospital.

“The Ford family asks for privacy during this difficult time, and thank the people of Toronto and around the world for their ongoing prayers and support,” said Dan Jacobs.

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READ MORE: Rob Ford continues cancer battle in hospital amid false reports he died: city staff

Members of the public and a number of politicians, including some who routinely disagreed with Ford when he was mayor, issued well-wishes for the 46-year-old in the aftermath of that statement.

“Thinking of Councillor @TorontoRobFord as he continues to battle cancer,” tweeted Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“Sometimes even just grievances, along with old battles, should be set aside,” added Coun. Josh Matlow. “I wish Rob Ford and his family my love, best wishes and strength.”

WATCH: Mihevc on Ford: This is a time to find personal peace

Ford has had a total of nine chemotherapy treatments so far, Jacobs said on Friday. He added that it’s hoped Ford will “build strength” before his medical team tries another treatment.

Staff in Ford’s office told Global News Ford Friday that the recent clinical trial he underwent, known as the Panov Program, was not effective.

Doctors are reportedly now waiting for Ford to regain strength before beginning a new round of chemotherapy, this time with a different concoction of drugs.

When asked if Ford is alert, Global News was told the councillor is sleeping a great deal as he regains his strength.

READ MORE: Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford back in hospital for cancer treatment

Ford was diagnosed with cancer in September 2014, less than a year after he confessed to smoking crack while in one of his “drunken stupors.”

The illness forced him to withdraw from his bid for re-election as mayor and he ran instead for a seat on city council, winning in a landslide despite his notoriety.

Ford’s term as mayor featured a series of headline-grabbing antics, including slurs against minorities, lewd remarks about his sex life and his admission of serious crack cocaine and alcohol abuse.

WATCH: Emotional councillor Mammoliti urges residents to send prayers to Rob Ford

City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, a staunch ally to the controversial Ford, asked for those who had been critical of the former mayor to respect his privacy. He also asked for prayers for his colleague.

“He’s had demons to fight and he still does and I think prayer can get him over this,” Mammoliti said. “We’ll just all sit tight and hope for the best and remember how powerful this man is and was.”

Notes of support were also pouring in on a “get-well-soon” website set up for Ford, which had more than 4,000 comments by Friday afternoon.

One message wished him “the strength and courage to beat this horrible disease.”

READ MORE: ‘Get well soon’ website launched for Rob Ford

Ford’s condition also appeared to resonate with others who said they have fought cancer, with one such commenter saying “keep up the fight Rob, I’m right here with you.”

Rob Ford’s nephew, Michael Ford, tweeted out his thanks for the swell of prayers and thoughts for his uncle, saying the family “very much appreciate” the support.

Ford’s brother, Doug Ford, would only say his sibling was “doing OK” as he walked into the hospital where the former mayor was being cared for.

With files from Adam Miller

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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