Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, has revealed that she has a brain tumor.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, the 29-year-old wrote that over the last year, she’d been feeling dizzy and off-balance.
After months of vertigo spells and doctors not being able to figure out what was wrong, Kelly was diagnosed with a noncancerous mass known as an acoustic neuroma.
Because the tumor is sitting on a nerve that emerges directly from the brain and is affecting her hearing, she needs to undergo surgery to remove it.
Kelly Stafford, 29, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (pictured together, left and right), said she had been feeling dizzy and off-balance for the last year. She suffered her first vertigo spell in January but, when she went to the ER, doctors couldn’t find anything wrong and sent her home
After suffering several more vertigo spells, Matthew suggested Kelly have an MRI ‘to rule everything major out’. Pictured: Matthew and Kelly with their three children, two-year-old twins Chandler and Sawyer, and seven-month old Hunter
Kelly said that her first vertigo spell occurred in January, and she was immediately rushed by her husband to the emergency room, according to the Instagram post.
Doctors took her vitals and ordered blood work that all came back normal so the Staffords were sent back home.
But Kelly kept having vertigo spells for several weeks, and Matthew suggested she have an MRI ‘to rule everything major out’.
A few days later, doctors told her she had an acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor that forms on the eighth cranial nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain.
Pressure from the tumor sitting on the nerve can cause hearing loss and ringing in the ear, and affect balance.
Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma may take several years to develop, according to the Mayo Clinic, but can include gradual hearing loss, ringing in the ears, poor balance, dizziness and facial numbness.
The tumor is caused by a mutation of a gene on chromosome 22, but what causes the mutation is unclear.
If the acoustic neuroma is small and showing few to no symptoms, doctors may suggest simply monitoring it until other treatment is needed.
However, sometimes surgery is needed, with the goal to preserve hearing and prevent facial paralysis.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, about 2,500 new patients are diagnosed every year.
A few days after the MRI, Kelly (pictured with Matthew, left and right) was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor that forms on the eighth cranial nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain. Pressure from the tumor sitting on the nerve can cause hearing loss and ringing in the ear, and affect balance
Kelly was told she needs to undergo surgery in the next few weeks and asked her Instagram followers for their prayers and support. Pictured: A scan showing Kelly’s tumor
Kelly was told she needs to undergo surgery and told her followers that she believes she’s found the best doctor to perform the procedure.
‘I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely terrified of brain surgery. I am,’ she wrote in the post, which has more than 49,000 likes.
‘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.’
She also asked her followers for prayers and support during her time of need.
Kelly and Matthew met as students at the University of Georgia where Matthew played football, before he was drafted as the No 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, and Kelly was a cheerleader.
They married in 2015 and have three daughters together, two-year-old twins Chandler and Sawyer, and seven-month old Hunter.
Matthew signed a $135-million contract extension in 2017 with the Lions, which made him the highest-paid player in the NFL at the time before he was surpassed by division rival quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.