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Jim Kelly begins chemotherapy today; cancer causing great pain

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Jim Kelly has been in a great deal of pain for months. Now we know why, as he begins chemotherapy today.


On and off the field, Jim Kelly was never one to complain about pain. After his first surgery to remove cancer less than a year ago, the Hall of Famer was still feeling intense headaches and pain in his head. When a guy that tough complains, you listen. According to Peter King at, responding to the tough guy's unusual pain might be what saves the former Buffalo Bills quarterback.

Kelly has microscopic tumors surrounding his infraorbital nerve and near the carotid artery in his head, which gave Kelly intense headaches for months, according to King.

"It's too perilous to operate now, even if the cancer that has spread up his infraorbital nerve can be neutralized, because there's no guarantee all of it can be found and removed," writes King, who visited the family in the hospital last week for the profile. "If doctors operated and all the cancer wasn't eradicated, weeks could go by before chemo or radiation could begin while he recovers from surgery, and that crucial time could allow the cancer to spread into his brain unabated. So for now, it's several weeks of aggressive chemo and radiation."

The infraorbital nerve gives sensation to the area between the eye and the lip, but that's not the most serious problem with Kelly's cancer right now. That would be its proximity to the carotid artery, which provides circulation to the head and neck. These two key points are the reason Kelly's doctors opted to go with chemotherapy and not surgery - the same doctor who called the cancer "very treatable and potentially curable" last week.

"If he's saying it," Kelly said, "I hope so. I just know there's a lot of work to do, to shrink the cancer. I just pray it works. If you hear I'm about to have surgery, then you know it's working. That's the goal. But it won't be an easy operation."

Kelly's wife and daughters have been sharing multiple images from their hospital stay on social media, garnering a response far and wide and sharing their faith with anyone who will see or read it. The #PrayForJK hashtag has been "humbling" for the family, but will also keep sending prayers to them as they deal with this very difficult situation.