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Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly joined OMF to discuss beating cancer, staying positive

Sara Civian
August 21, 2018 - 4:04 pm

Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly joined “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” Tuesday to discuss receiving the Jimmy V. Award, being cancer free, and staying positive through it all.

Kelly was honored with the Jimmy V. Award at the 2018 ESPYs in July for his bravery in his battle with oral cancer. A few weeks later, he got the news that he beat the cancer for the third time in his life.

“Ahhh, yeah I guess you could say that (things are looking up),” Kelly said with a laugh. “I’m very blessed...I know there’s so many people out there that are fighting every day...I could go on (about personal life struggles), the thing is: It’s the attitudes that the people have around you that help you persevere. I can honestly say that I don’t know if I’d be able to make it without the people around me -- my family, people in Buffalo, even Patriots fans that sent me letters and emails saying they're praying for me -- those are the things that get people though.”

Double thumbs up! MRI and CTScans are clear. Still working through major pain management, but PRAISE THE LORD, no evidence of cancer. And can I just say, Jim’s brothers are amazing! I’ve watched them stand with Jim in good times and bad. I’ve witnessed a love between siblings that is remarkable. What a blessing to be part of such an amazing family. Thank you Pat, Ray, Ed, Danny and Kevin for being an example of what a loving, devoted family should look like. Add your humor and faith to the mix and we have everything we need. Love you guys so much!

A post shared by Jill Kelly (@jillmkelly) on

“It shocked me to begin with..I had to pull off to the side of the road,” Kelly said of the first time he got diagnosed with cancer. “I broke down. I didn’t break down because I had cancer, I broke down because my wife had already been through it with my son. My daughters saw every single moment, what he went through. How am I going to tell my family they’re going to lose the second man in their life? Their father, their husband.”

Kelly’s son, Hunter, passed away at 8 years old due to Krabbe Disease.

“I didn’t want to have to put them through that again. I prayed to the Lord, give me the right words to say when I get home,” he said. “To be honest with you guys, I was a little mad my wife went public with it. She knew as a Christian that I needed as many people praying for me as possible. Now that I’ve become a Christian I totally get it. The more people you have praying for you, the better off you’re going to be.”

Kelly underwent an extensive surgery -- his jaw was reconstructed using part of his leg bone.

"It was a 12.5 hour surgery," Kelly elaborated. "They totally cut me from my right ear all the way down to the bottom of my neck all the way up to my chin...they put that (leg bone) with blood vessels from my arm and skin from my leg, I have no idea how they did it guys. I have no clue. The pain is still there and it will be for a while, but you have to suck it up and know there are so many people out there with a lot worse.

The doctors told me it's going to take some time, but hey, I'm a very patient person. I have to say a little BS on that one -- I'm not very patient. But I've been very blessed." 

He offered some parting advice.

“Realize you can be a difference maker for that person in your family or friends that needs that hug,” he said. “Make their day better by what you say and the smile you have on your face.”