'Terrified' Kelly Stafford, Wife Of Lions QB, To Undergo Surgery For Brain Tumor

Will she be OK? WWJ spoke with a neurosurgeon

Dr. Deanna Lites
April 03, 2019 - 11:17 am
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DETROIT (WWJ) - The wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford says she has a brain tumor.

Kelly Stafford took to social media Wednesday morning to announce she will undergo surgery to have what doctors call an acoustic neuroma, or vestibular schwannoma, removed from her head. 

Stafford said the tumor was discovered by an MRI after she experienced vertigo while playing with her daughters.

"A few days later we were hit with the results," Stafford wrote, in an Instagram post. "I had a tumor sitting on some of my cranial nerves." (Read her complete post below)

So will she be OK? WWJ's Dr. Deanna Lites spoke with neurosurgeon Boyd Richards at Providence Hospital, who is not treating Stafford but deals with these types of tumors.

Richards explained an acoustic neuroma is a fairly rare tumor that arises off of a nerve, spanning from the ear to the brain stem, which controls a person's balance.

The good news, he said, is that this is a benign tumor, which means it's not a malignant or cancerous; and it's curable. 

"The typical treatment is either observation, if it's very small, or radiation, or surgery. In a younger patient, we typically opt for surgery if they're fit for surgery," he said. "The gold standard of treatment for that is just to remove it, and that is typically curative. 

"Once the tumor is out, and it's had a good resection, it typically does not come back, and it's typically a curative prosecutors."

Richards said surgery takes around three to five hours, after which a patient would typically be in the hospital for several days.

"It's something that's not a a terribly painful surgery," the doctor said, "but of course all surgeries carry some pain. But I'd say the overall recovery would be close to about eight weeks."

There are some risk of nerve damage during surgery, Richards said, which Stafford acknowledged in her Instagram post.

"I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely terrified of brain surgery. I am," Stafford wrote. "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."

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

Richard said the exact cause for this type of tumor is unknown. About 2,000 acoustic neuromas are diagnosed in the U.S. every year.