BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, who underwent surgery for cancer in his upper jaw bone last summer, has had a recurrence of oral cancer.
ECMC released a statement Friday saying the recurrence was found while the Hall of Fame quarterback was in the hospital for a follow-up appointment. He was diagnosed last year with Squamous cell carcinoma. Head and neck cancer specialists at ECMC will be determining his course of treatment.
Former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy, who coached Kelly for more than a decade, including during his trips to the Super Bowl, was stunned by the news.
“It’s devastating news,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “I don’t know all the details of it, of course, and I am hoping they are not dire circumstances.”
Kelly’s original bout of cancer was discovered after Kelly told his dentist that his jaw hurt. Part of his jaw and some of his teeth were removed in a June 2013 operation.
Hall of Fame wide receiver Andre Reed said, “I’m just praying that the doctors are knowledgeable enough to try to get rid of this and give him the quality of life he deserves.”
Levy says no matter the circumstances, Kelly will fight and fight hard.
“It’s not just tough. It’s not just macho tough. It’s great tremendous strength of character that man has. There is a tough battle ahead. Jim is sure going to face up and do everything he can to conquer it,” Levy said.
Though it’s been years since Kelly took to the field or thrown a touchdown pass at Ralph Wilson Stadium, his former teammates and coaches say they won’t let him battle any opponent alone.
Former Bills quarterback Frank Reich said, “Jim was always the kind of guy that you want to go to battle with. He was our leader. We always rallied around him and just like they have in the last year, they will continue to rally around him.”
Levy added, “Our prayers and thoughts are with him. So privileged all of us who know him to say that he is our friend and we just hoping and praying that the turn will be a good one.”
Around an hour after the news broke, Jill Kelly sent out a message on Twitter saying, “We are overwhelmed by the sincere love you have shown and continue to extend to our family. #PrayersforJK”
The full statement from ECMC about the discovery of a new recurrence of oral cancer is below:
“Jim Kelly came to ECMC this week for continued testing related to his oral surgery. Unfortunately, it has been determined that his cancer has returned. Our team of head and neck cancer specialists is determining a course of treatment that will allow Mr. Kelly to battle this cancer successfully. Mr. Kelly has asked that you to keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”