Kelly Stafford says wave of support made Detroit feel like home. It wasn't always that way.

Kelly Stafford says the outpouring of support during her brain tumor surgery and recovery helped her make it through.

DETROIT – Kelly Stafford says the outpouring of support during her brain tumor surgery and recovery helped her make it through.

It also made Detroit feel like home. But it wasn't always that way.

"We've been here 11 years. Detroit loves its athletes. And they're also very tough on its athletes. Especially the quarterback," Kelly said. "So for these 11 years, it's been tough for me to really fall in love with this city because I just feel like, they don't really like us."

More: Kelly Stafford shares story of brain tumor diagnosis, 12-hour surgery

"For a long time, I didn't feel like this place was home because I didn't feel like we were really loved here. We went back to Atlanta and I felt like we were legitimately loved in Atlanta," Kelly added, while Matthew jumped in to clarify, saying, "You felt that however the game went the week before is how they felt about us."

"I went to training camp one day, and I didn't bring the kids. I remember calling my mom after, because I walked out of training camp and there was a group of probably 10 or 12 women with their daughters, and they all had Kelly Stafford Strong signs," Kelly emotionally said. "And they just wanted to say, I've been praying for you. We've been thinking about you."

"I remember calling my mom and being like, I have talked poorly about this place because of how I feel they sometimes that they treat my husband. I called her, and I was like, I feel terrible that I've ever resented this place. After feeling the love that I've felt from here and the support, which I needed and I pulled from a lot."

Kelly said the outpouring of support on social media was a huge help to her.

"I pulled a lot of my support through this entire thing through these letters, these emails that were sent. I rely on Matthew a lot. But sometimes it's overwhelming how much you can rely on someone. To read people's letters about how they've gone through it, how they've had someone go through it. And they're all stamped from the state of Michigan. Almost every single one in that facility was from somebody in the state of Michigan."

Also see: Kelly Stafford's message to women after brain tumor scare: 'Listen to your body'

"It really was unbelievable for me to feel so loved by everyone here. And I really don't think if we were in Atlanta or another city, it would have been that way. I really don't."

"I think Michigan and Detroit has its love for its athletes in a way that is unlike other towns. And it could be good or bad but in this case everything that was coming in, it was pretty remarkable."

"For everyone that prayed for me, whenever people come up and tell me that, I make sure I stop them. Because normally people will tell you that passing by because no one wants to bother us. But whenever someone says I was praying for you, I make sure to really thank them because I think that's what made this surgery a success. And I want them to know how grateful I am that they even took the time, 5 seconds of their day to think about me and pray for me."

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.