IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Kelly Stafford, wife of NFL star Matthew Stafford, opens up about brain tumor recovery

The wife of the Detroit Lions' quarterback shared her grueling journey back from a 12-hour surgery in April to remove a brain tumor.
/ Source: TODAY

One day in January, the room started spinning for Kelly Stafford. It turned out to be the beginning of an ordeal that led to a 12-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor.

The wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and mother of three opened up to NBC Detroit affiliate WDIV about her grueling recovery from surgery in April to remove a benign brain tumor.

"I'm relearning how to move again,'' she said. "I push myself. I try. It's really because I have a great support when I come home."

Kelly, 30, felt something was wrong when she experienced multiple instances of vertigo beginning in January.

"The room just kind of started spinning on me,'' she said. "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.

"I thought it was time to go at least try to get her looked at and see if it is vertigo,'' Matthew Stafford told the station.

An MRI of her brain revealed that she had a benign brain tumor known as an acoustic neuroma that was sitting on some of her cranial nerves. Despite being benign, the tumor is still known to cause hearing loss and facial paralysis.

"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,''' she said. "We had no idea."

Doctors decided to quickly operate, resulting in a surgery on April 17 that lasted 12 hours.

"I remember sitting down with them in the waiting room and just losing it,'' Kelly said.

During the procedure, Matthew Stafford was in the waiting room receiving sporadic updates via text message.

"They couldn't go, 'Here's three paragraphs of what's happening,''' Matthew said. "It was kind of like, 'Ran into a hurdle, expect the surgery to go two hours longer than expected.'''

An inspiring video showed Kelly walking just a day after the surgery.

"He never left my side,'' she said. "I mean when I say I couldn't do anything. He had to be by my side at every moment."

The support of the couple's three young daughters has also helped Kelly in her recovery.

"Kids are great in the sense that you can't dwell on things,'' she said. "They make you get up. They make you keep going."

Kelly has had to diligently work to recover her mobility. She wrote in an Instagram post on April 26 that the surgery "wiped out the entire balance system on my right side."

However, in the four months since the surgery, she has gone from just learning how to move again to getting in the gym and boxing.

"She's an incredible role model to our girls,'' Matthew said. "I'm just really proud of her."