Wife of Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford Releases Personal Essay Six Months After Brain Surgery

Kelly Stafford, wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, is urging young moms to take the time to get their health checked as she hits the six month mark after undergoing brain surgery.

Stafford, 30, says in the newly released ESPN interview, that she ignored some telling signs like feeling dizzy and lightheaded and overlooked weak spells. She thought it might be age, or the fact that she was caring for three daughters under the age of two — but she was wrong.

The mom-of-three wrote a personal essay for ESPN describing her journey first-hand. She wrote “A few days after the MRI, we got the results. The medical term was an acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma. There was a tumor sitting on some of my cranial nerves. I was told I needed to have surgery to remove it. And I was terrified.”

She continued, “Not at first. At first, we didn’t have any idea of where this was going to go, and we just needed to figure out how to deal with it. But as the day went on, my fears started to show themselves. What if this thing gets taken out and something goes wrong? What if something happens before that? My biggest fear is not being here, and not being here to raise my girls.”

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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.

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Kelly shared her story on social media, which as the wife of a high-profile NFL quarterback is really brave in itself — considering not everyone is a supportive fan and the world of social media can be brutal. Stafford notes in the essay, “Not only did I want to let people know what I was going through, I wanted to say: It’s OK to be scared, regardless of your situation.”

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A little update: I thought I could do it. They told me tapering off the steroids was going to be very difficult. The first picture was yesterday when I was on what I thought was my last day of steroids. I thought I could power through the pain and massive headaches that were challenging me throughout the day. I figured i could pull my strength from one of the strongest people I know, matthew. I told myself the pain would succumb to me, I wouldn’t succumb to it. I was so wrong. The pain got so far ahead of me I couldn’t keep anything down, including meds. I ended up in the ER very early this morning, back on steroids and pain medication. At first, I felt like I had failed, like I couldn’t handle it.. but what I really failed at was listening to my own body. A lesson I feel like I am going to have to keep reminding myself of. Thank you again for everything. I just wanted to give a little update. They will keep me here overnight just to monitor in hopes of going home in the morning.

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The Georgia native, added, “I’ll say this: Detroit and Michigan really showed up. The Lions were incredible. They told Matthew to take all of the time and space he needed. And then, there were the fans. The amount of letters that poured into the facility — so many prayers, a lot of holy water — it was remarkable. Matthew joked that our house looked like a bootleg flower shop.”

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Can’t sleep. Sitting here, listening to these hospital beeps, wide eyed… and I’m MISSING my people. I’ve seen them once since surgery and it was hard. I was so excited to see them, but the amount of energy it took to even just yell out their names with excitement, was too much energy. I can’t pick them up, they can’t climb on me, we can’t go on adventures, but what’s worse is I can’t be the mom I want to be for them right now.. Not physically, not mentally, not emotionally.. and I am really having a hard time trying to figure out how much to push myself right now to get back for them.. really to get back to myself, so I can get back to them. I thought this would be like every other surgery I had.. no idea why the hell I thought that. You have a couple tough days and then you turn the corner. Mind over matter..Well this is mind over mind and honestly I’m terrible at this.. so if you have any advice, please, please don’t hesitate to share. (Might wanna take advantage because when I’m back feeling good and you try to give me advice on something I don’t want advice on.. you might get a little slap back ?) Serious side note: my prayers are to anyone fighting something medical and out of their control right now. There are things far, far, far worse than I am going through and the people getting through their everyday life while battling through those things.. y’all are true heroes, all my prayers are with y’all. Gonna try and get some rest.

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She expressed, “This state can be tough on its athletes, especially one that has been here so long. We’ve been here for 11 years now, and I had never really taken to this state as much as I wanted to … until now. Because the support that these people gave me — you can tell how much they love him by the support they gave me. I was truly grateful for it all.”

These days, Kelly says, “I feel pretty good. Days are longer. Some days are hard — some mornings I wake up a little foggy, and know I have to take the day a little slower. It’s rarer for me to get dizzy. Background noise can be tough (but also good — sometimes I don’t hear what I don’t want to hear).”

To read Kelly Stafford’s entire essay, check it out on ESPN.

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