Kelly has had one ailment or another lately. "The last two years I've had major back surgery, double hernia surgery, neck surgery," Kelly said. "Prior to this--being diagnosed with cancer--I had two jaw surgeries not knowing that's what it was. We hear the word cancer and it scares you."
The Kelly family is battle tested. The challenges of life have made them stronger. It helps to have the support of an entire region.
"After I retired and my son's diagnosis (with Krabbe's disease) and how much that helped me and how much the community rallied around me as a father and then the death of my son... it was hard," Kelly said. "It's been hard on me for many years, but I wouldn't have been able to get through this without my faith and the overwhelming response from fans and people in general.
They just really seem to understand and care. I thank them so much because the letters I've received, the emails, the phone calls.. words cannot express how that makes me feel and how our family feels when you have so many people that care."
Kelly has had time to reflect on his own mortality, but is determined to turn this, like everything else, into a positive.
"We all have a certain time limit that we're here," Kelly said. "I just hope mine is for many, many more years because I have so many more things to do. Never give up... just like Jimmy V used to say when he was diagnosed. You just never, ever give up. Keep plugging along and make a difference for other people."
The short term prognosis is good. Kelly is free of cancer for now and determined to make a pain-free recovery.
"Even though this has happened to my upper jaw, it's not like having it in your arm or leg," Kelly said. "It's very painful, but it's just something else I have to deal with. In due time, I will kick its butt. I will be all right. I'll get to my normal, every day thing taking care of my two daughters and my wife and having fun again."
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