Pro Football Hall of Famer and Cancer Survivor Jim Kelly Teams Up with Merck and Leading Cancer Organizations to Launch Your Cancer Game Plan


January 25, 2017 7:00 am ET

Kelly Provides His “Game Plan” for Navigating Head and Neck Cancer

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Head and neck cancer survivor and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly
is sharing his personal experience as part of Your Cancer Game Plan,
a new awareness campaign focused on helping people with cancer and their
loved ones tackle their emotional, nutritional and communication needs.
Kelly, one of the toughest quarterbacks to have played Pro Football,
successfully handled the gridiron with his motto ‘Kelly Tough’ – a motto
that took on new meaning after he was diagnosed with head and neck
cancer. The campaign, from Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the
United States and Canada, in partnership with Kelly and leading cancer
organizations, encourages people with head and neck cancer and their
loved ones to make a cancer “game plan” to support their cancer journey.

Many people living with head and neck cancer may experience different
physical and emotional challenges than people with other forms of
cancer. To help address these challenges, Your Cancer Game Plan
provides support and resources, including Kelly’s tips on how to remain
positive and healthy recipes for those facing head and neck cancer.

“I know first-hand the special challenges people living with this
disease and their families face,” notes Kelly. “My experience taught me
so much about the importance of emotional support and taking care of
myself, and I hope that by sharing my experience, I can inspire
others to take action and know their game plan.”

Your Cancer Game Plan is a collaboration between Merck, the Head
and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA) and Support for People with Oral and
Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC), the leading patient organizations
supporting the head and neck cancer community for nearly six decades
combined, and Savor Health, a service dedicated to supporting the
nutritional needs of people living with cancer.

Understanding Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer describes a number of different tumors that develop
in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. Each year more
than 60,000 new cases of head and neck cancer are diagnosed in the U.S.
Many people with head and neck cancer face unique challenges as a result
of surgeries and/or treatments that impact a person’s appearance,
speech, smell, taste, ability to swallow and sight.

“People with head and neck cancer can feel isolated and face depression,
which is why support is extremely important. Through Your Cancer Game
we are providing resources that can help them manage emotional
needs at every stage of their journey,” said Holly Boykin, executive
director of the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.

“Communicating with family members, friends or even your healthcare team
can be very difficult for people living with head and neck cancer,” said
Mary Ann Caputo, executive director of Support for People with Oral and
Head and Neck Cancer. “Your Cancer Game Plan provides guidance
and advice for communicating with family and friends to help those
affected by head and neck cancer express themselves in an effective way.”

“Making sure your body gets the nutritional support it needs may help to
keep your strength up through a treatment course. Adapting and managing
meals is important for people living with head and neck cancer, and
we’ve developed helpful tips and recipes that are designed with this in
mind,” added Susan Bratton, founder and CEO of Savor Health.

About Your Cancer Game Plan

Your Cancer Game Plan serves as a central hub for those living
with head and neck cancer and their loved ones as they take an active
role in developing a “game plan” to address the emotional, nutritional
and communication needs of their cancer journey. By visiting,
people can hear Jim Kelly’s story as well as inspiring stories from
other patients. There is also unique content, including nutritional
information and recipes, coping strategies and communication tips. To
learn more about head and neck cancer and Your Cancer Game Plan,
or share on Twitter using #CancerGamePlan.

“At Merck, we’re committed to supporting patients with cancer, and
providing them with resources that can help them better navigate this
complex and often isolating journey,” said Jill DeSimone, senior vice
president, Merck Oncology, U.S. “We were inspired by Jim Kelly’s passion
and positivity, and we are proud to come together with Jim and leaders
in the head and neck cancer community to bring Your Cancer Game Plan
to people living with cancer.”

About Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly began his professional football career in 1986, following two
years with the United States Football League’s Houston Gamblers. During
his 11 years with the Buffalo Bills, he led the team to six AFC East
Championships and four consecutive championship appearances. Kelly holds
the all-time professional football record for most yards gained per
completion in a single game, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall
of Fame in 2002. He became known for his motto: “You have to be ‘Kelly
tough’.” This motto, built on the importance of being physically and
mentally strong and able to bounce back from injuries, took on a new –
and more important – meaning after his cancer diagnosis.

Kelly was diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell cancer in his upper
jaw in 2013. He underwent surgery, but after a follow-up test, Kelly
found out the cancer had returned and he would need to receive further
treatment. Finally, in August 2014, doctors gave Kelly the good news
that they could no longer find evidence of cancer.

About Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA)

Head and Neck Cancer Alliance was formed when the Head and Neck Cancer
Foundation and the Association for Head and Neck Cancer Awareness joined
forces in 2006. HNCA strives to advance prevention, detection, treatment
and rehabilitation of oral, head and neck cancer through public
awareness, research, advocacy and survivorship. HNCA works to maximize
internal and external resources to become a “one-stop center” dedicated
to oral, head and neck cancers. HNCA provides ongoing support for those
affected by head and neck cancer through various programs, including
Oral, Head and Cancer Awareness (OHANCA), Gas Card Program,
#OperationOral Project and Smash Cancer. In addition, HNCA volunteers
work passionately to educate people about oral, head and neck cancers,
and the importance of early detection and prevention through their
volunteer network, awareness events, educational programs and health
fairs. For more information, visit

About Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC)

Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC) was
established when Nancy E. Leupold, MA, oral cancer survivor, Founder and
President, was looking for support more than 25 years ago following her
diagnosis. From the first support group in 1991, the need for this type
of patient network is critical. Today there are more than 125 local
SPOHNC chapters throughout the U.S. focused on helping to connect
patients with others going through similar cancer journeys and seeking
valuable guidance from oncology healthcare professionals who are experts
in the field of head and neck cancer. SPOHNC provides information and
resources for cancer patients trying to gain a better understanding of
their illness, including publications that feature head and neck cancer
specialists, survivor sharing stories and current head and neck cancer
news, which helps to meet a patients overall needs. In addition,
SPOHNC’s National Survivor Volunteer Network serves to provide
“connections” from survivor volunteers to newly diagnosed patients
providing encouragement, support and hope from someone who has walked in
their shoes. For more information, visit

About Savor Health

Savor Health was founded after Susan Bratton, Founder and Chief
Executive Officer, watched her close friend lose his struggle to cancer
just five months after being diagnosed. Nearly everyone undergoing
treatment for cancer experiences trouble eating. Cancer starves people
of nutrition, and Savor Health uses nutrition to fight back. Savor
Health works with a team of oncology nutrition experts to provide cancer
patients, survivors and caregivers with personalized nutritional advice
and solutions including meal preparation and delivery, recipe
development, meal planning, one-on-one nutritional counseling and the
latest nutritional research that will meet the unique nutritional needs
of cancer patients throughout their journey. For more information, visit

Merck’s Focus on Cancer

Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology
medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck Oncology,
helping people fight cancer is our passion and supporting accessibility
to our cancer medicines is our commitment. Our focus is on pursuing
research in immuno-oncology and we are accelerating every step in the
journey – from lab to clinic – to potentially bring new hope to people
with cancer.

About Merck

For over a century, Merck has been a global health care leader working
to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United
States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines,
biologic therapies, and animal health products, we work with customers
and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health
solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to
health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships.
For more information, visit
and connect with us on Twitter,
and LinkedIn.

Carmen de Gourville, (267) 664-0146
Christiana Pascale, (212) 257-6722

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