The Kelly Family
The Kelly Family has faced cancer with strength and resilience, and by sharing their story, they have inspired countless patients and their families.
Jim, a Hall of Fame quarterback and former Buffalo Bill, was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013. His wife, Jill, and his two daughters, Erin, 20, and Camryn, 16, rallied around him and stood by his side through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
“Every time my wife, my daughters and brothers walked into my hospital room, they walked in with a positive attitude, and that made me feel better that day,” Jim said.
Jim came up with his own personal motto that became his guiding principle throughout his illness: Make a difference today for someone who is fighting tomorrow.
The entire Kelly family has certainly done just that.
Throughout Jim’s cancer journey, Jill, Erin and Camryn shared the ups and downs of his treatment through social media, news interviews and speaking engagements. Their honesty helped spread awareness of the disease and inspired others who were facing similar battles.
The saying “Kelly Tough,” which became popular when Jim was playing in the National Football League, became a symbol of the family’s perseverance and a mantra for many other patients and their family members.
In honor of the inspirational slogan, Erin and Jill wrote a book, “Kelly Tough,” chronicling the family’s perseverance. The book shares what the saying has meant to the family through the many challenges they’ve faced — including the loss of Hunter, Jim and Jill’s son who suffered from a rare genetic disease and passed away at the young age of 8.
“Everyone has their own story, their own struggles,” Erin said. “My hope is that ‘Kelly Tough’ encourages someone else going through hard circumstances.”
Today, Jim is cancer free. The family is enjoying spending time together — time they are grateful to have. Camryn is getting ready for her junior year of high school, while Erin prepares for her junior year of college.
And the family is also continuing to be champions of the cancer cause — encouraging patients everywhere to be “Kelly Tough.”