Jim Kelly stays strong through faith

Updated: April 1, 2014, 11:39 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly told theMMQB.com that it's his faith that keeps him going as he prepares to embark on a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation to battle the return of his cancer.

[+] EnlargeJim and Camryn Kelly
AP Photo/Jill KellyThis recent photo provided by his wife, Jill Kelly, shows Jim Kelly, left, with his daughter, Camryn, at the hospital in New York where he is undergoing treatment for his cancer.

The former Buffalo Bills quarterback was set to begin chemotherapy on Monday as long as a slight fever he was battling Saturday, when he spoke with theMMQB.com, was under control. However, that treatment was delayed.

Kelly will now start chemotherapy and radiation treatments targeting cancer cells in his maxillary sinus and adjacent tissues next week. Kelly will be receiving a single dose of chemotherapy at Lenox Hill Hospital, along with concurrent daily radiation therapy treatments. The chemotherapy will be repeated as an outpatient in approximately three weeks and six weeks.

"There is no way I'd be here without my faith," Kelly told the website, recounting the "roller coaster" his life has entailed, from four straight Super Bowl losses, his Hall of Fame career, his son Hunter's death from a rare disease in 2005, various surgeries and now his second fight against cancer. 

Kelly's four brothers, his father Joe, his wife Jill and daughters Erin and Camryn were in his hospital room at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City when the former quarterback talked to the website.

Doctors treating Kelly decided that surgery is not the best option for dealing with his cancer, which is in areas from which it cannot be eradicated by a surgical procedure.

Dr. Costantino, a leading authority on cranial base tumor surgery and craniofacial reconstruction, issued a statement Tuesday about Kelly's treatment.

"At the conclusion of chemotherapy and radiation, we will wait two-to-three months to determine the status of his cancer before deciding if surgery will be necessary," the statement said.

Costantino also noted that Kelly has not been previously treated with chemotherapy or radiation, so he said he is confident that this current treatment regimen has a good chance of successfully impacting the cancer.

The return of Kelly's cancer was diagnosed after he had complained of severe headaches.

"I guarantee the normal person wouldn't have been able to take it," Kelly told theMMQB.com of his headaches. "Some days, I don't know how I did. I complained about my headaches for months, and for a while I thought it was just part of the healing process from such a serious surgery. But obviously it was more than that. I'd look up to the Lord and say, 'I give. Uncle. You got me.'

"But now, this is just another river to cross," he told the website. "Now we know what it is, and we'll keep fighting. Whatever I did in life, I never did alone. So we'll fight. It's in the Lord's hands now."

The 54-year-old Bills star underwent surgery last June to remove a squamous cell carcinoma from his upper jaw.

Kelly spent 11 seasons with the Bills, leading them to four consecutive Super Bowls (1990-93) where Buffalo came up short each time. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

His son, Hunter, was born with Krabbe disease, a hereditary genetic disorder. Given little more than three years to live, Hunter died at the age of 8 in 2005.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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