Thurman Thomas visits Kelly family at NYC hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –  Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly is at a hospital in Manhattan battling a cancer recurrence. Thursday, he enjoyed a visit from his friend and former teammate Thurman Thomas. Jill Kelly posted the included video to Instagram, showing her husband and Thomas putting together a puzzle of an elephant. In the video you can hear them laugh together, as they joke the photo is of Bruce [Smith.]

The Instagram video was posted with the message, “The puzzle and the end result! We don’t know who sent this puzzle to Jim at the hospital…but whoever you are THANK YOU for providing much joy and laughter! We love you! #prayersforjk @patticakes34.”

As Kelly is fighting his own battle, he is still helping others. Thomas will be traveling back to Buffalo Friday night to support Kelly’s annual Hunter’s Hope Benefit, started after Kelly’s son passed away.

Since 2005, the foundation has raised more than $320,000 to support new treatments and cures for Krabbe Disease. As millions of people fight debilitating diseases like cancer, there is hope and people want to help in this community.

Another one of Kelly’s friends and former teammates Steve Tasker helped kick off the Ride for Roswell Thursday night, that supports cancer research. For so many its not just a benefit, it’s personal.

Tasker said, “My father in law, eight days ago passed away. He was diagnosed just before the ride last year, he didn’t make it a full year after he was diagnosed with stage four.”

A release from Lenox Hill Hospital says Kelly’s cancer has returned “in a location that requires specialized expertise in the treatment of skull-based tumors.” He will be treated by Dr. Peter Costantino, executive director of the hospital’s New York Head & Neck Institute, who says, “Jim Kelly’s condition remains very treatable and potentially curable. Our immediate focus is on controlling his pain and beginning the process of eradicating the cancer.”

The doctor is one of only a few in the nation experienced with using a minimally invasive surgical technique, using an endoscope, sent through the nose to remove tumors.

In Kelly’s case, the cancer has spread beyond the maxillary sinus and surgery will not be performed.

Costantino is touted as a renowned expert in complex surgical procedures of the head and neck, including tumor removal. He’s said to have the capability to give patients their pre-surgical appearance and function.

According to the hospital, Costantino also developed material to replace bone and tissue. He was the first surgeon to regrow part of the human mandible.

ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff was one of Costantino’s patients. Woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2006, when a roadside bomb exploded. He was embedded with troops in Iraq. Costantino was instrumental in Woodruff’s facial reconstruction.

Kelly’s youngest daughter was flown to New York City earlier, Friday, to be with the family. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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