Former Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly has undergone cancer surgery to remove a tumor from his upper jaw, and doctors said the procedure went very well.
Kelly, who announced earlier this week that he was diagnosed with cancer, had part of his jawbone removed where doctors had found squamous cell carcinoma.
“The surgery went very well,” a news release issued by Buffalo’s Erie County Medical Center stated. “We are hopeful for and anticipate a speedy recovery and successful outcome.”
The QB looks at his cancer surgery and subsequent treatment as a challenge, but said he plans to attack it with the same aggression he had in leading the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990s.
“When you hear the word cancer it actually scares the crap out of you,” Kelly told reporters at his celebrity golf tournament. “I know it not only scared me, but it scared my family. But like everything, it’s just another river to cross.”
The phrase Kelly used, “one more river to cross,” harkened back to the glory days of the Buffalo Bills. It was a popular rallying cry for the Bills teams of the early 1990s as they dispatched AFC foes in winning the conference four times.
Jim Kelly said he had been experiencing jaw pain for the last six months, and in March had a procedure to remove a small cyst from his gums and nasal cavity.
“When I talked to the surgeon, and when they went over the CT scan, they knew I caught it early enough,” Kelly said. “But just like with anything, you have to wait a number of months after the surgery to make sure nothing comes back.
“I’m very confident. My faith is definitely there, and that’s probably more than anything what’s kept me going, and the support I’ve gotten from my family.”
For the QB, cancer surgery is just another challenge to attack in life. His son, Hunter, was born with a degenerative disorder of the central and peripheral nervous systems known as Krabbe disease. Though doctors said Hunter would probably not live to his first birthday and very likely die before he turned 3, he lived to age 8.
“You have challenges, and you have to confront them head-on,” Kelly said. “This is just another one. I’ve been to the top many, many times, and I’ve been to the bottom. It’s just one of those roller coaster rides I’ve been on throughout my life, and it’s just another challenge for me. I know I’ll beat it. That’s the bottom line.”
Hospital officials said the QB is resting after his cancer surgery, and will remain at the hospital until he feels comfortable enough go home.