Tonawanda News

Bills

June 3, 2013

Former Bills QB Kelly battling cancer of the jaw

Tonawanda News — BATAVIA — Jim Kelly intends to confront the cancer found in his upper jaw bone much like the Hall of Fame quarterback has approached many of the numerous challenges he's faced in life: Head on.

Revealing on Monday that he's been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, Kelly drew upon his family, faith and perseverance. Those are three qualities that have helped him overcome the death of his son, Hunter, his mother and whatever obstacles stood in his way on the football field.

"You have challenges. You have to confront them head on. And this is just another one. I'm down at the bottom. But I will rise to the top again," Kelly said. "I am extremely confident in my road to recovery. I plan to tackle this challenge head on, as we Kellys always do."

Informed of the diagnosis two weeks ago, Kelly called the prognosis for recovery "very good." He said tests show the cancer is isolated to the jaw and not spread to other parts of his body.

Doctors plan to remove part of Kelly's jaw during an operation scheduled to take place at a Buffalo hospital on Friday. It won't be determined until after the operation whether he will require chemotherapy

"We caught it in time," the 53-year-old Kelly said. "It's just another challenge for me and I know I'll beat it."

The announcement was made shortly before the start of quarterback's 27th annual Kelly for Kids charitable foundation's celebrity golf tournament.

The news of Kelly's condition immediately drew support from former teammates and friends attending the tournament.

"The first thought is you say a prayer that everything works out OK," said Bill Polian, former general manager of the Bills. "Secondly, he didn't earn a reputation as the toughest guy ever to play quarterback for no reason at all. So if anybody can overcome this, Jim can. He takes challenges head on."

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