Jim Kelly, the Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the 1990s, announced Thursday that he had again received a diagnosis of cancer.
“The oral cancer we hoped would be gone forever has returned,” Kelly said in a statement released by the Bills. “Although I was shocked and deeply saddened to receive this news, I know that God is with me.”
The team added a statement of its own, saying, “We are deeply saddened to hear about Jim Kelly and his impending battle with cancer. Jim is a tough and courageous man and we know he will fight this battle with strength and determination.”
Kelly, 58, was previously diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his upper jaw in 2013. He was declared to be cancer-free following surgery but had a recurrence that required treatment through radiation and chemotherapy. Before Thursday’s announcement, he had been believed to be free of cancer since September 2014.
After his first experience with cancer, Kelly discussed the lingering effects from the disease and treatment, including difficulty in speaking, the inability to produce saliva and an inability to taste food.
Kelly’s family was open about the latest diagnosis, with his wife, Jill, and one his daughters, Erin Kelly-Bean, discussing it on Instagram.
“We are shocked, heartbroken, sad, angry, confused, and just darn tired,” Jill Kelly said in her post. “Yet, despite how we feel, we KNOW that God is a promise maker and keeper.”
Kelly, who remained a towering force in Buffalo and in the NFL despite all of his Super Bowl appearances ending in losses, said he was relying on what he called the “four Fs”: faith, family, friends and fans.
“With all of you by my side we will fight and win this battle together,” he said. “Staying ‘Kelly Tough’ and trusting God will carry us through this difficult time.”