Updated: March 25, 2014, 1:10 PM ET
ESPN.com news services
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly is expected to undergo surgery Thursday following the return of oral cancer. His wife, Jill, says the cancer is aggressive and starting to spread.
The 54-year-old former Buffalo Bills star is being treated in New York City. His wife posted Tuesday on her Instagram account that Kelly’s surgery is “tentatively scheduled for Thursday.”
Kelly’s Buffalo doctors said March 14 the return of the cancer was discovered when he came for follow-up tests after surgery to remove cancerous cells last year.
Dan Kelly told The Associated Press that his brother is humbled by an outpouring of prayers posted on social media. Jill Kelly has been providing updates on Twitter and her blog, where she recently posted that her husband’s cancer is “aggressive” and “starting to spread.”
Fellow Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, the Denver Broncos’ executive vice president, was among those who tweeted support for Kelly.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Jim Kelly and his family! There’s not a stronger or tougher guy to handle this battle!!
– John Elway (@johnelway) March 25, 2014
Kelly underwent surgery in June 2013 to remove cancerous cells in his jaw. At the time, chemotherapy and radiation treatment were not necessary.
Kelly, who played for the Bills from 1986 to 1996, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. He holds nearly all of the franchise’s passing records.
His son, Hunter, was born with Krabbe disease, a hereditary genetic disorder. Given little more than three years to live, Hunter died at the age of 8 in 2005.
ESPN.com Bills reporter Mike Rodak and The Associated Press contributed to this report.