Doctor outlines Jim Kelly's latest surgery to remove cancer, timetable for recovery

Shutdown Corner
Jim Kelly had 12 hours of surgery Wednesday night to remove oral cancer. (AP)
Jim Kelly had 12 hours of surgery Wednesday night to remove oral cancer. (AP)

Jim Kelly’s legendary toughness is being put to the test again.

The former Buffalo Bills quarterback went through 12 hours of surgery on Wednesday night in New York City to remove oral cancer. This is the third time Kelly has been treated for cancer in the last five years.

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“We successfully removed Mr. Kelly’s cancer from his upper jaw and lymph nodes from his neck. We then reconstructed his upper jaw. Mr. Kelly is resting comfortably post-operatively,” said Dr. Mark Urken, head and neck surgeon at Mount Sinai West said, according to the Bills’ website

Kelly’s wife Jill said her husband now “heads into a very significant time of recovery.” According to ESPN’s Mike Rodak, Urken said Kelly will be in the hospital for about two weeks, then be screened for cancer again in three months. Rodak wrote the surgery included “taking part of Kelly’s fibula and blood vessels from his leg to rebuild his upper jaw.” 

“We have a long road ahead, but we do not walk alone…the Lord goes before us and is with us…we will not fear,” Jill Kelly said in an Instagram post

Kelly’s longtime teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas tweeted his support, and changed his profile picture to a shot of him and Kelly on the sideline together during their playing days.

Bills fans, and all NFL fans, have followed Kelly’s battles with cancer, which date back to 2013 when he was first diagnosed with oral cancer. He announced on March 1 this year that the cancer had returned. Kelly is one of the most popular players in Bills history, taking the team to four straight Super Bowls. He and his family have documented his fight against cancer through social media.

Once again, fans will be rooting for Kelly’s full recovery.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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