Buffalo Bills Legend Jim Kelly to Undergo Surgery for Cancer in Jaw

Alex KayCorrespondent IJune 3, 2013

Legendary Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly will undergo surgery after being diagnosed with squamous-cell carcinoma (cancer) of the upper jaw bone.

According to a press release by his former club, the procedure will be performed on Friday, June 7, and his chances for a complete recovery are “very good.” Fortunately, the cancer is isolated in Kelly’s upper jaw and has not spread to other parts of his body. 

UPDATE: Friday, July 19, at 9:15 a.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland

The Buffalo Bills' official website has the latest on Kelly's recovery from surgery:

Appearing on The John Murphy Show Thursday night, Kelly says his recovery continues, although not quite as quickly as he would like.

“I’m getting better,” Kelly said on the radio show. “I’m not a very patient person and the patience has been running out for a couple of weeks now, just wondering when the pain’s going to subside. I am getting better, slowly but surely, it will all come to a head where I’ll be fine and get back to normal. But they had to do a lot.”

Kelly announced at his football camp three weeks ago that he is cancer free and will not require immediate chemotherapy or radiation. And he’s looking forward to a checkup in a couple of weeks.

“I’ve heard so many horror stories about chemo and radiation, and some of the things other people have gone through. I send my prayers out to them every night,” he told host John Murphy.

” We have to continue to listen to what my dentist says and what my doctors say, and do the right thing. In about two weeks, I go for my first CT scan to make sure none of the cancer has come back. I’m very blessed.”

---End of Update---

UPDATE: Friday, June 7, at 12:18 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

Fantastic news as Jim Kelly underwent successful surgery this morning to remove the cancer from his jaw. The Buffalo Bills have the latest:

ECMC released a statement in Regards to Jim Kelly's surgery:

'At Mr. Kelly’s request, we thank everyone for their concern and well wishes for him and his family. Today, Mr. Kelly underwent a partial maxillectomy to remove a squamous cell carcinoma of the upper gingival caused be chronic irritation at the gum site. He underwent reconstruction with a dental obturator. The surgery went very well. We are hopeful for and anticipate a speedy recovery and successful outcome. Mr. Kelly is recovering comfortably at this time. He is in the capable care of the great nurses and staff here at ECMC. He will remain here at the hospital until he feels comfortable to go home.'

Thom R. Loree, MD, Clinical Director, Head and Neck Surgery Department
Maureen Sullivan, DDS
Mark S. Burke, MD

---End of update---

Kelly thanked fans for their support and noted that his wife and children would be by his side on the road to recovery. He mentioned that he would appreciate any prayers going forward for himself and his family.

The Buffalo Bills shared this quote from Kelly on Instagram:

Kelly's former teammate and longtime favorite wide receiver Andre Reed had some positive words about his friend, via the Bills' Instagram:

The Bills later shared this throwback photo on Instagram of Kelly next to former Buffalo quarterback and cancer survivor Joe Ferguson. Ferguson shared his thoughts on "conquering cancer" via BuffaloBills.com.

This is unsettling news for Buffalo fans and NFL supporters around the globe. Kelly played for the Bills from 1986 through 1996 and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

During his time in upstate New York, Kelly helped lead his franchise to four straight Super Bowl appearances from 1990 through 1993. He was elected to five Pro Bowls, made three All-Pro teams and remains the Bills' leader in all-time passing yards—with 35,467—17 years after his retirement.

Kelly was a major contributor in the USFL early in his career, playing for the Houston Gamblers in 1984 through 1985 and winning MVP honors before the organization folded and the league collapsed shortly afterwards.

Despite running up against some of best opponents in NFL history during those Super Bowl runs, the 53-year-old signal-caller may now be facing his toughest challenge yet.

Hopefully, the surgery is successful and Kelly beats his cancer to make a full recovery and return to leading a normal life in short order. 


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