Lifestyle & Human Interest

NFL QB Matt Stafford's Wife Speaking Out After 12-Hour Brain Surgery To Remove Tumor


Getting the news that something is wrong with you is always unnerving. They say ignorance is bliss, but in many cases it’s early detection and treatment that is needed.

For Kelly Stafford, her journey back to health started in January when she noticed some concerning “vertigo.”

“The room just kind of started spinning on me,” she told WDIV. “I was holding our newborn at that point, and I kind of just like almost threw her to Matthew because I felt myself going down.”

Matthew Stafford, quarterback for the Detroit Lions and Kelly’s husband, knew she needed to get medical attention.

“I thought it was time to go at least try to get her looked at and see if it is vertigo,” Matthew Stafford said.

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“I remember Matthew gets a phone call and I’m sitting there with all three of our girls, just hanging out on the floor,” Kelly told WDIV. “Matthew gets a phone call and I can kinda tell his demeanor a little bit. The phone call probably lasts five minutes, and he gets off, and I was like, ‘Who’s that’ and he’s like ‘Asheesh’. I said, ‘Oh OK, what’s going on?'”

“And he goes ‘Well, I don’t want you to worry, they said they found something in your MRI. We probably just need to go get it checked. I kinda brushed it off. I didn’t think twice about it. Until they sent us the doctor we were going to and it was a neurosurgeon at UCLA. That’s when I was like, OK, this is interesting.”

But it was about to get more interesting.

“I don’t know if this doctor didn’t know that I didn’t know, she pulls up my MRI and goes, ‘Well, here is your brain tumor,”’ Kelly said. “We had no idea.”

The acoustic neuroma was a benign tumor, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t serious. Kelly could have lost her hearing because of the way the growth was crowding her brain, so she was quickly wheeled into a 12-hour surgery.

The procedure was hard for Matthew, who didn’t know what was going on.

“They couldn’t go, ‘Here’s three paragraphs of what’s happening,”’ he said. “It was kind of like, ‘Ran into a hurdle, expect the surgery to go two hours longer than expected.”’

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The healing process was just as involved, as Kelly needed quiet to be able to recover. That meant only short reunions between the mother and her three young kids.

“I’m home,” Kelly wrote April 26 on Instagram. “I’m home and I got to spend a few hours with my little humans. It filled my heart so much. I can’t even describe it.”

“I wish they could stay, but I know I’m not ready for all of it. When they took out the tumor, they also wiped out the entire balance system on my right side. I wish I could explain it, but I think it’s something you have to experience.”

“I can’t turn my head right without feeling college drunk,” she wrote. “I’m talking end of the night, cant put one foot in front of the other, knowing you’ll be sleeping on the bathroom floor, college drunk. I have to rework my brain to know that it can only rely on my left side, which will take time, a good amount of time.”

“And when there are two toddlers running below your feet while you are trying to relearn basic things like walking.. it makes it seem like there are a million more moving parts to it.. maybe because there are,” she added.


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This is a picture of Matthew & I the day we found out. I said I wanted this picture of us, so that the day this was all over, we could look back at this photo & remember. Within the last year, I began to notice things that I thought was just me getting older.. I would show my girls how to do a front roll or twirl in ballet class and immediately feel dizzy & off balance… Things that I had been doing my entire life were now, all of a sudden, difficult. The beginning of Jan was when I experienced my first spell of vertigo..It kept happening & then it happened while I was holding Hunter. Matthew took me straight to the ER. They checked vitals & bloodwork, all were fine.. Several vertigo spells later, Matthew’s team doctor recommended we go get an MRI of my brain to rule everything major out. A few days later we were hit with the results. I had a tumor sitting on some of my cranial nerves. The medical term they used was an acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma.. All I heard was brain tumor & that they had to do surgery to take it out.. so that is what we are going to do & we believe we found the best doctor to do it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely terrified of brain surgery. I am. I am terrified of them opening my head, I’m terrified of losing my hearing, I’m terrified of losing facial function, I’m terrified of far worse things that could happen and I’m terrified that I won’t take the time I need to recover because the guilt I might feel of being absent from my kids for too long.. I am telling y’all this to ask for prayers and support. Things to pray for: -calmness in these next 2 weeks as I know anxiety will run high in myself & my whole family leading up to the day of surgery. -that God be in the room with the surgeons & give them all the guidance, steadiness, & confidence they need. -my safety during and after surgery. -please pray for matthew as I know his nerves will be high during this surgery. I couldn’t imagine being out in that waiting room. Thank u. Thank u for reading this novel. thank u for all your support and most importantly, thank u for your prayers.

A post shared by Kelly Stafford (@kbstafford89) on

Her kids are her motivating factor, and though she’s fighting fatigue and brain fog, she’s working hard to get back to her athletic self.

On Aug. 17, Kelly posted an update on Instagram.

“The human brain and body really are remarkable,” she wrote. “Four months out. Every day is different.. but I am so grateful for every day.. the struggles and the triumphs. Going to continue to put one foot in front of the other, just like the first day after surgery. “

“She’s an incredible role model to our girls,” her husband said. “I’m just really proud of her.”

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