Hall of Fame quarterback and former University of Miami standout Jim Kelly announced Thursday that his oral cancer that had been in remission for more than three years has returned for a third time.
“As our family has faced many trials and triumphs throughout the years, you have blessed us with your prayers. We are asking for those prayers again. The oral cancer we hoped would be gone forever has returned,” Kelly said in a statement. “Although I was shocked and deeply saddened to receive the news, I know that God is with me. I continuously talk about the four F’s. Faith, Family, Friends, and Fans. With all of you by my side, we will fight and win this battle together. Staying ‘Kelly Tough’ and trusting God will carry us through this difficult time.”
Kelly was first diagnosed with oral cancer in June 2013, and after surgery said all the cancerous cells had been removed. However, the cancer returned in March 2014 and required Kelly to undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment. He announced he was in remission in August 2014.
And now, once again, the disease has returned.
“We need you...,” Kelly’s wife, Jill, said in a post Thursday on Instagram. “In addition to our faith, family, and friends ...we really need you and your prayer warrior friends to pray. We’re all in this together. THANK YOU! The more life and heartbreak I experience, the more I realize that this is not the end of the story.”
Kelly, 58, played his collegiate career at the University of Miami from 1979-1982 and helped set the stage for the program’s eventual success — the Hurricanes won their first of five national championships a year after his time with the program came to an end. The Buffalo Bills drafted Kelly with the 14th overall pick in the 1983 draft.
After two years playing for the Houston Gamblers in the USFL, Kelly played 11 years in the NFL — all with the Bills — before retiring in 1996. During that 11-year span, the Bills reached the playoffs eight times and appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Jim Kelly and his impending battle with cancer,” the Bills said in a statement released on Twitter. Jim is a tough and courageous man and we know he will fight this battle with strength and determination.”
The University of Miami football team also expressed its support for Kelly on its official Twitter account: “We’re with you every step of the way, @JimKelly1212. #UFamily”