Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is returning to the field this week as his wife, Kelly Stafford, recovers from an operation to remove a tumor from her brain.
Earlier this year, Kelly began to experience severe bouts of vertigo, which led her to have an MRI of the brain that revealed she had a benign tumor, known as an acoustic neuroma, resting on her cranial nerves. In April, she underwent a risky 12-hour operation to remove the mass, which could have left her without hearing. The operation was a success, and the 29-year-old has been recovering and spending time with the couple’s three young daughters at home.
Matthew, 31, has remained by his wife’s side throughout the ordeal, and now that Kelly is recovering, he is returning to his football team as they prepare for the upcoming NFL season in September. Yet, the last few months have left him forever changed, he says.
“Situations like this change your perspective on a lot of things,” Matthew said on Tuesday, according to USA Today. “It kind of puts stuff where it should be. But it’s been good. Like I said, I’m just happy to be out here throwing the ball around to some really talented guys, having some fun, playing some ball.”
During the lengthy operation, Kelly revealed in an Instagram post that her surgeon discovered an ”anomalous” artery which he had only encountered one other time. But thanks to his experience, “when he cut in to see the artery, he was confident & prepared,” she explained.
After returning home, Kelly struggled with intense headaches and pain, which Matthew alluded to while talking to reporters.
“[When] Kelly had a bad night, I was trying to get home as fast as I can,” he said. “It’s been up and down, just as we kind of expected it to be. But like I said, everybody here has been extremely, extremely supportive, and so have my teammates have been great, too. They understand.”
“They know that I’m committed, I’m dedicated to this team and our future and our season, but at the same time a lot of those guys have families, too, and understand how important that is as well,” Matthew continued.
This week, Kelly posted a series of pictures to social media showing the couple attending a friend’s wedding, something that was a “big goal” of hers after the surgery, she wrote.
“Although I’m struggling after the weekend, I would have it no other way,” she said in the post. “It was completely and totally worth it.”
Matthew said Kelly’s mother, who has become a caretaker for her daughter after the operation, helped him feel confident he would be able to return to the team with his wife in good hands.
“I’ve got an obligation to this team that I love fulfilling,” he said, according to USA Today. “I want to be here… but at the same time had a lot going on at home and they were really flexible with me in letting me kind of come in on some off hours and make sure that I was taking care of my obligation, my duty to the team and then be home as well.”