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Staffords talk role reversal after Kelly's diagnosis, surgery for brain tumor

DETROIT – Usually, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is relying on his wife's strength to help him through injuries.

It was his turn to be the strong one this time. Kelly Stafford was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, a slow-growing tumor on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. Stafford underwent surgery that went from six hours to 12 hours.

For the first time, she opened up about the diagnosis, surgery and recovery with Local 4. The couple talked about how their roles quickly had to reverse, especially when she returned home after the 12-hour surgery. 

"Every day, Matthew would come and help me out of bed, walk to the sink, brush my teeth," Kelly said.

"I'm normally very upbeat with my kids. I'm loud, that's just who I am. I couldn't get that energy up to be that mom that I normally am with them. I felt like they read it immediately. And what was even worse was I knew they weren't coming home. I met them at a little playground because I didn't want to be stuck in a house where I couldn't move."

Kelly said she couldn't have made it through those days without her amazing support group.

"I could not have done it without this man next to me but also without all the support of the people that are close to us. We had parents here, siblings here, my mom was here for a long time. Our nanny is exceptional. I trust her more with my kids than I trust myself," Kelly said. 

"I told Matthew, I think about those people who go through this and don't have these privileges that we have and how they heal. They have to be complete rock stars because I truly don't know how I would have done it without these people."

For Matthew, he said he just tried to be there for Kelly as much as he could.

"It was tough. I'm admittedly not great at being the most empathetic person. I don't know why. I'm just that way," Matthew said. "What do you do when somebody tells you your wife has a brain tumor? You can't read a book on that. So I just tried to be there for her as much as I could."

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

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