Paqui and Brian Kelly Comprehensive Breast Center hopes to detect cancer early on


SOUTH BEND, Ind. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we continue our commitment to Paqui’s Playbook series with a sneak peek at the new Paqui and Brian Kelly Comprehensive Breast Center.

Its grand opening will be Tuesday at St. Joseph Health System.

The new breast center sets new standards with a $6 million investment by the Kelly Cares Foundation, founded by two-time breast cancer survivor, Paqui Kelly, and her husband, Brian.

From the minute you walk through the doors of the Paqui and Brian Kelly Comprehensive Breast Center at St. Joseph Health System, you are greeted by a warm and soothing environment.

Features include a non-medical waiting area, private consult rooms, and even a private HydroMassage that patients can use before and after testing.

The center is aesthetically pleasing and also gives patients leading healthcare and peace of mind.

Paqui, a two-time survivor, says giving women peace of mind is key. Her breast cancer was found during her first mammogram at the age of 36, when she had three small kids at home.

“It was scary. [My kids] were five, three, and two at the time,” said Paqui, “Knowing that you have [the center] here, as a breast cancer survivor, should be very settling to you.”

Women can also get bone density screening. There are private dressing rooms and refreshments – all to make a woman, already nervous about screening, feel more relaxed.

Medical Director Dr. Michael Rotkis said, “I think the women deserve a world class experience in our region and it excites me that we can offer that from the time they walk in the door until they walk out with whatever treatment they have.”

Breast cancer will strike one in eight women in their lifetime, which is why Dr. Rotkis says a comprehensive cancer center is so crucial, with early diagnosis being key.

“There will be 230 to 250,000 cases of new breast cancer diagnosis in 2016,” said Dr. Rotkis, “We take them through screening, enhanced screening, diagnostic imaging, molecular breast imaging, MRI through biopsy, through surgery.”

In addition to the beauty and non-sterile environment in the 10,000 square foot plus center, Dr. Rotkis points out that the center has three unique features to help make a better diagnose.

One is the 3-D mammography, the only mammography they now offer.

Dr. Rotkis said, “The current state of the art for screening is 3D tomography, which is enhanced imaging of the breast, and it improves sensitivity significantly over digital imaging.”

He also says he has no doubt this technology is saving lives.

Offered with MammoPlus Risk Assessment, “the MammoPlus portion includes genetic risk evaluation,” continued Dr. Rotkis, “So we can identify someone who previously had no idea they may be at risk for having some genetic abnormality which may predispose them to breast cancer.”

The second unique offering is what’s called Rapid Results.

“Patients who have a particularly worrisome finding, we shepherd them right through the process of diagnostic, to biopsy, to results hopefully within 24 to 48 hours,” explained Dr. Rotkis.

That ends the nerve wracking two to three week wait many women have.

The testing they are especially thrilled about is one of only two machines in the state that perform Moleculor Breast Imaging.

“It’s a nuclear study and it’s highly sensitive and specific for breast imaging and it helps us distinguish what is malignant and what is benign,” said Dr. Rotkis, “For patients who have abnormal mammograms, this can be helpful in determining whether they are appropriate for a biopsy or not.”

Rotkis says all tests are improving survival rates for women by catching cancer at its earlier stages in an environment with staff dedicated to the patient.

“If we have to give them bad news…we also want to give them the good news that we can take care of this as good as anywhere in the country, right here at home,” said Dr. Rotkis.

Paqui and Brian Kelly and their Kelly Cares Foundation hope the center will add to the millions of breast cancer survivors.

Paqui will be at the open house and hopes you will come out to see all the center has to offer.

“Look around and get familiar, because you should be here every year,” said Paqui, “Get your mammogram, make the tour. Check in, it should go right along with your new year’s resolution.”

“I feel welcome,” Paqui continued, “and I want people to come back and say, ‘Yep, I got my mammogram.'”

The open house is today at St. Joseph Health System on Douglas Rd from 3 to 5 p.m.

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