Jim and Jill Kelly discuss battle with cancer

Jim Kelly at Lenox Hill Hospital
Jim Kelly at Lenox Hill Hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – For the first time, we’re hearing directly from those closest to Jim Kelly. The Kelly family and close friend Thurman Thomas opened up to CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor.

Thurman Thomas breaks down discussing the pain endured by his friend Jim Kelly. An aggressive recurring cancer has spread throughout Kelly’s head and neck.

“Jim said, 34, you just don’t know how bad my head is feeling right now. My response,” Thomas said, “was if I could take your head for a little bit, for a little while I would switch it with mine.”

Jill Kelly spoke to Glor about Jim and their son Hunter, who passed away at eight years old. He had Krabbe Disease.

Jill Kelly said, “I think the struggle with Hunter has changed that man. He’s changed. I think the struggle with Hunter is also helping him to get through what he’s going through now. And the compassion that he has for people is being paid back to him a bazillion fold right now.”

RELATED | Jeff Glor is a western New York native and lifelong Bills fan. He spoke to News 4 about interviewing the Kelly family and Thurman Thomas

“It’s never been about him. It’s always been about other people and what he can do for somebody else. It’s just. he’s the definition of love.” Jim’s older brother Dan Kelly said, “It’s very painful to watch him go through it and to sit there and not be able to do anything about it.”

CBS’s Jeff Glor asked Erin Kelly what her one wish for her dad is. She said, “That he would come out of this stronger than he came in. My wish is that when people look at my dad, they see a guy who fought the good fight and who did it with such joy and courage and bravery because that’s who he is. That’s his character. I pray that when people see us they find hope and they find faith through what we’re going through.”

“It was one of the more challenging series of interviews I’ve ever done,” Glor said.

Jim Kelly sent this message to CBS, “I’m very humbled that so many people took the time out to not only send me well wishes but more importantly the prayers. That’s what’s gonna get me through this. I have so many people to thank but I’d be here all day. So, on behalf of my family, thank you.”

The reporter is a Western New York native and Bills fan. He said he tried to put that aside during this very emotional interview. Glor spoke of the relationship Kelly and Thomas have developed over the years.

“This is a bond that these two guys have formed not just on the football field, but after they stopped playing that is extraordinary and the notion that Thurman would get that emotional talking about Jim, I think is understandable,” Glor said.

“We come along side each other and we feel it. Not just from the Western New York community. Here in this darkness, there is such light,” Jill said.

Glor told News 4′s Ed Drantch, Kelly was fighting an infection and a fever, as high as 103 degrees, during the time of the interview. Glor also said Kelly may be moved from Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, to a hospital on Long Island for further treatment.

Kelly is now preparing for chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

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