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Rob Ford thanks well-wishers in statement hours before beginning chemo

ABOVE: Listen to Rob Ford’s audio statement

TORONTO – Rob Ford released an audio statement to the people of Toronto from his hospital bed at Mount Sinai Hospital Thursday, thanking well-wishers for their support and encouraging his brother Doug Ford to jump into the campaign “wholeheartedly right now.”

Ford, with a shaky and obviously weakened voice, says he will be starting chemotherapy later Thursday afternoon.

“I know I’ll beat this terrible disease. I am determined to face this head on and return strong to my family and to my city,” Ford said in the recording.

Dr. Zane Cohen, a senior doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital announced Wednesday the mayor had been diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma – a rare cancer that affects approximately 1 per cent of cancer patients.

The mayor is scheduled to go through two cycles of chemotherapy over several weeks. Cohen said Wednesday he hopes the chemotherapy will shrink the mayor’s 12cm x 12cm tumour enough it can be removed through surgery.

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READ MORE: Patients, families shed light on chemotherapy

WATCH: Doug Ford campaign starts with his brother’s endorsement. Mark McAllister reports.

“Toronto needs Doug Ford as mayor”

Ford took the opportunity to endorse his brother for mayor saying Doug was essential in the mayor’s administration.

“I was not alone in this, my brother Doug was by my side, sharing my vision, fighting for the great people of Toronto,” Ford said.

“Toronto needs Doug Ford as mayor, there’s so much at stake in this election. The city’s future and the issues facing Toronto can’t wait. So I’m encouraging my brother to jump into this race wholeheartedly right now.”

Doug Ford, who entered the race last Friday when his brother withdrew, has been largely absent from the campaign and has not taken part in any debate or released policy.

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WATCH: The Global News panel discusses how Rob Ford’s cancer diagnosis affects the campaign

Read a transcript of Mayor Rob Ford’s audio statement:

In a few hours I will begin my chemotherapy. Then I will spend the next little while, with my family, focused on getting better.

But, I would like to speak directly to the people in our city before I do that.

Let me start by saying thank you to the good people of Toronto.

I am humbled by your overwhelming kindness and support.

It means the world to us that so many of you have reached out to show concern and offer prayers.

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I also want to thank the amazing staff at Humber River Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital for the care and compassion you have shown us.

With the love and support of my family, my friends and the people of Toronto – I will beat this.

I am determined to face this head on and return strong for my family and for my city.

For the past 14 years, as Councillor and as Mayor, I have worked hard to bring about change at City Hall to make life a bit easier for the average hard working people of Toronto.

I was not alone in this, my brother Doug was by my side, sharing my vision, fighting for the great people of Toronto. I could have never accomplished what we did without him.

Doug loves our city as much as I do. He’s prepared to tackle the issues head on.

Last week I asked my brother to carry the torch and continue the work that we started together.

I’m happy that he’s agreed. Toronto needs Doug Ford as Mayor.

There’s so much at stake in this election.

The city’s future and the issues facing Toronto can’t wait.

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So, I’m encouraging my brother to jump into this race, wholeheartedly, right now.

When people get to know Doug as I do they will see a man who cares, a man with a vision, a man with integrity and determination.

You, the people of Toronto, have been with me since day one. Now I ask you to throw your support behind my brother Doug.

Thank you again for your ongoing support and well wishes.

But most importantly I want to thank my lovely, caring, wife Renata who has been with me and by my side from day one.

My heart goes out to anyone facing similar health battles, and to your families who are standing strong behind you.

But friends, please, please never ever give up. Be strong, stay positive and never, ever give up.

God bless all of you and all the best.

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