Few Americans keep up with Canadian politics. However, chances are good that you’ve heard of Rob Ford, the notorious ex-mayor of Toronto who died yesterday at the age of 46 from a very rare cancer.
Ford gained international notoriety after admitting to reporters that he’d smoked crack cocaine while in office. However, this was only one of the many antics that marked the outlandish politician’s career.
According to the New York Times, Ford was also expelled from a hockey game for being drunk and belligerent, caught groping a female politician at a fundraiser and asked to stop coaching high school football after a violent confrontation with a player.
It’s hard to believe that this larger-than-life character was mayor of Toronto—a multicultural and politically correct city known for eco-consciousness—from 2010 to 2014.
In September 2014, Ford was diagnosed with a very rare cancer—pleomorphic liposarcoma—which prevented him from running for reelection, according to the Toronto Sun. A large, softball-size tumor was found in his abdomen, and a smaller one was found in his buttocks.
According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, liposarcomas are rare tumors that arise in the body’s fat tissues. They are especially hard to detect in the abdomen, because the patient often mistakes the tumor for weight gain.
Of the four types of liposarcoma, pleomorphic is the rarest, and it can be very aggressive. It often recurs in different parts of the body.
Ford underwent a combination of treatments, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. According to the Toronto Sun, the treatments shrank his original tumors, but two more appeared on his bladder. Determined to beat the cancer, the ex-mayor, and then city councilor, resumed chemotherapy and began an experimental trial drug.
After an 18-month battle, Ford died this morning. The Ford family has released the following statement:"With heavy hearts and profound sadness, the Ford family announces the passing of their beloved son, brother, husband, and father, Councillor Rob Ford, earlier today at the age of 46.A dedicated man of the people, Councillor Ford spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto.The family asks that you respect their privacy and join them in their grieving and their prayers.The family will not be making any statements to the media or taking any questions.Information will follow at a later time regarding memorial services."