Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly declared cancer-free

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly was declared cancer-free Thursday after follow-up biopsies this week came back negative.

"This is some of the greatest news I've ever gotten," Kelly said in a statement. "It's been a long road, and I'm still not back to 100 percent, but I have a lot to be thankful for."

Initial tests last month, conducted several weeks after Kelly completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments this past spring, returned no evidence of cancer in his jaw. Doctors, however, required biopsies on other areas of Kelly's jaw.

Kelly's wife, Jill, posted a video Thursday on Instagram of Jim calling to tell his daughter the news.

"I am so thankful for the support and prayers of my family, my friends near and far, and everyone in Western New York and throughout the country through my illness. I also want to thank the medical specialists who have done such amazing work," Kelly said. "Most of all, I want to thank God. Without my faith and God's constant presence, there would be no such thing as 'Kelly Tough.'"

Kelly's former teammate, special-teams ace Steve Tasker, tweeted about the news Thursday afternoon:

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Jim Kelly tells NFL Network about upcoming MRI, partying Buffalo fans, tears over Andre Reed honor

Jim Kelly appeared on the NFL Network about 30 minutes before the start of the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Andre Reed, Kelly’s No. 1 target from his time with the Bills, will be inducted into the Hall later Saturday.

Kelly spoke with host Rich Eisen and fellow Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders for about 10 minutes. Bills fans cheered in the background, and Kelly pumped his fist as they chanted “Kelly Tough.” Kelly and Irvin, who both played at the University of Miami, had an emotional hug at the end of the interview.

A few highlights from Kelly:

On his health: “I’m doing alright. I’m getting better. Coming here this weekend, to this celebration, has made me feel better, but I still have a long road to go. I’m better than I was a month ago and a lot better than I was two months ago. I’ll find out more near the end of this month when I have my first MRI since my chemo and radiation.”

On the support he’s getting from Buffalo fans: “It’s awesome. As you well know, when you’re going through tough times, you need people behind you. You need the support. … The Bills fans, the city of Buffalo have been behind me not only when I played, but when my son, Hunter, was diagnosed and passed away. And now (again) what I’m going through and what our family is going through. You can’t ask for anything better.”

On the enshrinement ceremonies being moved to the stadium for the first time because of the crowd that came to see Kelly: “We have crazy fans, and I knew we were going to get 15-20,000 people here. And Andre is going to have about the same. (Gesturing to the crowd) Look at all these crazy people. They’re here not only to watch football and to see Andre get inducted – as we all know it should have happened a while ago – but they’re here to party. Buffalo is full of partiers. That’s why I probably liked it.”

On seeing Andre Reed get his gold jacket on Friday night: “For me, that’s when I knew I made it into the Hall of Fame, when I received that jacket. Tears flowed out of my eyes that day. Tears were flowing out of my eyes last night when Andre received his jacket. Just to feel he’s finally here, he finally got what he so well deserved, all the hard work he put into it, and for me, knowing I had a small part of his success, made me feel good.

And a quote from Sanders, more of a statement than a question: “I just want to tell you, man, and I want them to know: You’re a really good dude. (Kelly laughs). No, no. You really are. To see what has transpired over Twitter and social media, you’ve got a lot of people praying for you, not just because of what’s going on but because you really are a good guy. You’ve blessed a lot of people, man.”

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Jim Kelly released from hospital after finishing radiation

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly took another step in his fight against cancer Monday, as he was released from the hospital and headed home.

According to Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News, Kelly is 10 days removed from his final radiation treatment. Doctors told him it will take two to three months to determine the next step in his treatment.

“He’s excited about getting home,” Kelly’s brother Dan said. “We’re really excited for him and he’s glad to get going on the road to recovery.”

The 54-year-old just finished a six-week round of chemotherapy and radiation, and has been in the hospital since May 15.

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Jim Kelly avoids cancer surgery, doctors say it is 'treatable and potentially curable'

Doctors believe that Jim Kelly’s aggressive cancer is “very treatable and potentially curable.” They just won’t be able to help him with surgery as they initially planned.

Surgery turned out to be “not the best option for Jim,” according to Jill Kelly, the wife of the Pro Football Hall of Famer, wrote in a Facebook update. Doctors told the Kellys that the oral cancer – which was diagnosed last summer and recently returned “is in areas that surgery cannot successfully eradicate.”

The new plan, she wrote, is for the 54-year-old former NFL quarterback to be treated with chemotherapy and radiation. Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, where Kelly will be treated, added in a statement that surgery could “potentially” become an option again.

“Jim Kelly’s condition remains very treatable and potentially curable," the statement read. “Our immediate focus is on controlling his pain and beginning the process of eradicating the cancer.”

Kelly, who led the Bills to four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s, will be treated by Dr. Peter D. Costantino, the executive director of Lenox Hill’s New York Head & Neck Institute. Kelly had previously been treated at the Erie County Medical Center in the Buffalo area, but according to the Lenox Hill statement “His cancer returned in a location that requires specialized expertise in the treatment of skull-based tumors.”

Kelly first learned he had a form of upper-jaw cancer last June and underwent surgery to remove part of his jawbone and teeth. He appeared to beat the disease until about two weeks ago when Jill Kelly wrote on her blog that “The cancer’s back, aggressive and starting to spread.”

Jim Kelly, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002, has received an outpouring of support from former teammates and his many fans in Western New York, where they’re also reeling from the death of long-time Bills owner Ralph Wilson on Tuesday. In one of her updates on Facebook, Twitter and her blog, Jill wrote “Thank you for walking along side us, lifting us up in prayer, loving us, and hoping.”

She also posted a photo of Jim Kelly hugging his father.

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Jim Kelly battling cancer of the jaw

BATAVIA, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly says he has been diagnosed with cancer in his upper jaw bone and will have surgery on Friday.

Kelly is suffering from squamous cell carcinoma, but he has recently undergone tests to show that the cancer is isolated in his jaw and has not spread to other parts of his body.

"The past couple of weeks have been difficult for me," Kelly said. "Because of the nature of social media, I thought it would be best to share with everyone what has been going on with my health."

The announcement was made Monday morning, just before the start of the quarterback's Kelly For Kids charitable foundation's annual celebrity golf tournament.

"Doctors have told me that my prognosis for recovery is very good," he said.

Kelly will have part of the upper jaw removed, and he is unsure whether he will require chemotherapy, which will be determined after surgery. The operation will be performed in Buffalo.

"We caught it in time," Kelly said. "When you hear the word 'cancer,' it automatically scares you. It not only scared me, but my family. But it's like everything. It's another river to cross, another stumbling block. I've been to the top many times. And I've been to the bottom. It's just one of the roller coaster rides I've been on throughout my life.

"It's just another challenge for me and I know I'll beat it."

Kelly spent 11 seasons with the Bills before retiring following the 1996 campaign. He still holds nearly every significant career franchise passing record -- 35,467 yards, 237 touchdowns and 26 300-yard games -- and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

"I am extremely confident in my road to recovery," Kelly said. "I plan to tackle this challenge head on, as we Kellys always do, with toughness, perseverance and faith."

Concerns about the 53-year-old's health were first raised last week when his wife, Jill Kelly, posted a message published on imgur.com. Without going into detail, Jill Kelly noted that the family was going through a "more serious battle under our roof," and asked followers to pray for her husband "for healing."

Later, a youth sports foundation in Sioux Falls, S.D., announced that Kelly would not be able to attend the Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends banquet on June 13 for personal reasons.

Jill Kelly noted the cancellation with a post on her Twitter account on Friday in responding to a person disappointed the quarterback won't be attending the banquet.

"He is disappointed as well," Jill wrote. "But his health must come first! Please pray for him Happy"

Jim Kelly has encountered numerous health problems over the past few years, and has had surgery to correct back, neck and hernia problems.

Then, in mid-March, Kelly revealed in an interview with the State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill., that he recently had surgery to remove a cyst -- which he's described as being "the size of a nickel" -- from his gums and nasal cavity. As part of the operation, doctors had to pull out his front teeth, Kelly said.

Kelly appeared to be having no setbacks in his recovery, after making numerous public appearances over the past month.

Kelly was in good spirits attending rookie quarterback EJ Manuel's first news conference at the Bills' facility on April 26, a day after Buffalo selected the player in the first round of the draft.

Two weeks ago, Kelly watched a Bills practice session from the sideline, after which he chatted up several players.

On May 26, Kelly joined country music artist Tim McGraw on stage and threw footballs into the crowd during a concert outside Buffalo.

Jill Kelly posted photos of her husband with McGraw, as well as her husband attending The Preakness in Baltimore on May 18.

Jim Kelly was upbeat in addressing reporters on Sunday, while attending his charity's annual gala and auction, noting that his 84-year-old father, Joe, was in attendance. He said this year's event was projected to raise close to $5 million. And he noted how this was an opportunity to see many friends and former teammates.

"Jim's a fighter. We think he'll be OK. We're all in his corner," former Bills receiver Andre Reed said. "He's such a resilient guy, and that's been our motto forever, in whatever we did.

The Kelly for Kids Foundation was established in 1987, and has since donated tens of millions of dollars to numerous organizations around the region.

Kelly later founded the Hunter's Hope Foundation in honor of his son, Hunter, who was born in 1997 with Krabbe disease. That's an inherited degenerative disorder of the central and peripheral nervous systems. The disease hinders development of the myelin sheath, a fatty covering that protects the brain's nerve fibers.

Given little more than three years to live, Hunter died at the age of 8 in 2005.