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Jim Kelly
Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly gestures during a press conference in Batavia, N.Y. , Monday June 3, 2013. Kelly says he has been diagnosed with cancer in his upper jaw bone and will have surgery on June 7. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

As Kelly Prepares for His Surgery, Patient Describes What to Expect

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) As Jim Kelly prepares for surgery to remove cancer on his jaw bone, a patient who had similar surgery shares his experience.

"When I was first diagnosed, it was pretty small, like a blemish on my lip, and they scheduled me for a procedure where they'd snip it off, but it was a six week wait," says Bill. By that time, however, the cancer spread. "The blemish had grown considerably and the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes. When the surgery came, they took out 80-some lymph nodes out of my right jaw." What was planned to be a five hour operation became a 12 hour procedure.

Another surprise: how much teeth Bill lost. "They had me scheduled for radiation/chemo, but they were concerned about me losing my teeth from the radiation and chemo. So, I went in ostensibly to get two teeth pulled, and by the time I woke up, they were all gone," Bill explained. He says in retrospect it was a good idea because the radiation and chemo would have had to be stopped and then started up all over again if the teeth became an issue.

Bill says he was weakened by the treatment. "It was a struggle just to raise my hand," recalls Bill, who also says eating and talking have been challenges without his teeth.

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