Three months ago, there was grave concern that Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly was going to be taken far too early by the cancer that had returned his jaw.
Thursday afternoon came the rather amazing news that after undergoing six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments in a New York City hospital, the 54-year-old Kelly has no signs of cancer.
"This is some of the greatest news I've ever gotten," Kelly said in a prepared statement. "It's been a long road, and I'm still not back to 100 percent, but I have a lot to be thankful for."
Kelly returned to New York City two weeks ago for a determination on whether the chemo and radiation had helped, and he was told that it had. However, doctors could not be certain that the cancer was completely eradicated until biopsies were performed. That occurred last week, and Kelly went back to New York Tuesday to learn the results.
Kelly was originally diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in May 2013, and underwent an operation that removed a portion of his jaw, and several of his teeth. He was then fitted with a prosthetic jaw and false teeth, and a few weeks later, it was determined that the surgery had removed the cancer.
However, Kelly suffered from terribly painful headaches throughout the fall, and finally decided to undergo a battery of tests in May and June to find the cause. As it turned out, the cancer returned, and it had done so aggressively.
Surgery was ruled out because the microscopic tumors were in an area too dangerous to operate on, so the chemo and radiation course was applied. Kelly lost 51 pounds, and he is still being fed through a tube in his stomach.
"I am so thankful for the support and prayers of my family, my friends near and far, and everyone in western New York and throughout the country through my illness," said Kelly. "I also want to tank my medical specialists who have done such amazing work. Most of all, I want to thank Go. Without my faith and God's constant presence, there would be no such thing as 'Kelly Tough.'"
His wife, Jill, and daughter, Erin, went to social media to express their excitement.
Sal Maiorana writes for the Democrat & Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., a Gannett property