It was the news Jim Kelly was hoping for following surgery to remove part of his jaw that was stricken with cancer. Last week on a follow-up visit to the physicians that performed his surgery June 7th, Kelly was told he was cancer free and for now would avoid chemotherapy.
"I found out great news on Wednesday," Kelly said Monday at the opening of his 26th annual Jim Kelly Football Camp. "I don't have to go through radiation treatment and chemo, which is a blessing. From what I've been told everything that they did in surgery, if I had to do radiation or chemo it would put me way back."
Kelly had the left side of his jaw removed in surgery earlier this month along with all the teeth on the left side of his mouth in addition to several in front. To replace what was removed Kelly had a skin graft performed where tissue was harvested from his left leg to be used in his mouth.
Despite all the surgeries and rehabs he had as a player and the back, neck and hernia surgeries he's endured over the past three years, Kelly said the soreness coming out of this procedure has been the most difficult to deal with.
"The worst part about my cancer is it's right here in the area of my mouth," said Kelly. "They had to remove most of my jaw on my left side. It's very, very sore, but it takes time. I know when you have knee surgery or shoulder surgery it's sore for a small period of time and rehab and everything is good and you just take your time. This is just constant pain for now, but it's a small price to pay for where I'll be later on down the road."
Kelly, who is cancer free now, understands there's the possibility that the cancer could return. To monitor that the Hall of Fame quarterback will be returning to his doctors every two months for checkups. For now he was more than happy to sidestep chemotherapy.
"Big time relief," he said. "Trust me, prayers definitely have a big part in it. I've received so many letters and emails from people that have had similar circumstances as I did and some of them were not very good and some of them were very good. You're encouraged on one hand and discouraged on the other. To find out where they've been and the prognosis of where I'm going I'm very excited. I'm happy.
"I never thought I'd be saying cancer. I never though the 'C' word would become part of my vocabulary. But it is what has happened to me and the ups and downs of my life. I'm already on the way back up."
He's hopeful that it a year's time he's back to normal. Kelly has lost 14 pounds purely based on his restrictions with food intake as he can only eat soft foods. The former QB says he's like to lose another 10 to 15.
Kelly was also quick to thank all of his supporters that sent prayers and well wishes for a positive outcome and speedy recovery.
"I want to thank personally everybody from this area," said Kelly of the Western New York community. "This community has rallied around me when I played for the Bills, when my son Hunter was diagnosed and of course my latest setback with cancer.
"The community's prayers there are not enough words to describe the feeling in my heart and my family's heart how much it means to me to have people take the time to email me, write me hundreds and hundreds of letters. Those prayers have been answered because of the things that I don't have to do now."