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Couple Puts Patients 1st

by Georgann Yara - Feb. 10, 2011
Special for the ABG

He's the dreamer, and she's the doer. He's creative and thinks out of the box, while she has a head for business and is a whiz at financial planning.

That's how Drs. Robert Kuske and Coral Quiet, the husband-and-wife founders of Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists, describe each other's non-medical talents.

In 2009, the oncologists formed the practice dedicated exclusively to treating women with breast cancer with radiation. The couple said theirs is the first, and perhaps only, such facility in the world.

"I felt that was an ideal situation," Kuske said. "Doctors come up to us and tell us, 'You two are the ideal professional couple.' It's been a total blessing."

Quiet said she appreciates that her husband is a novel thinker.

"I'm more the business person, the finance person. We're able to use those two different skills so remarkably well in all our decision-making," she said.

Their yin-yang qualities have proven successful in growing their practice, which draws patients from around the world to their offices in Scottsdale, Phoenix and Gilbert.

The objective is to provide patients with an alternative to mastectomy with treatments individualized to each patient vs. a generalized procedure. They also wanted to offer women an environment that does not resemble the typical oncology office. Quiet made sure that the office decor and furnishings give off more of the vibe of a spa than a treatment center.

Because most women in the early stages of breast cancer are very healthy, Quiet wanted to save her patients from sitting in a room surrounded by patients with more-aggressive forms of cancer whose severe treatments have taken a toll on their appearance.

"To have women in a general-oncology room made them very uncomfortable. It felt scary to a lot of women," Quiet said. "(The office) has a peacefulness to it."

Kuske credited his wife with creating the detailed touches that make their practice unique.

"The goal we set was that our practice, the layout of the office would be devoted to women in every aspect. She took my idea and made it happen in a gorgeous way," he said. "That's Coral making it happen."

Kuske and Quiet each were already successful when they met in 1999 at a medical conference at which Kuske was speaking on Breast Brachytherapy, the five-day radiation therapy he pioneered.

Quiet had co-founded the Arizona Institute for Breast Health, a non-profit organization that offers a pro bono second-opinion service to recently diagnosed women. Quiet had become interested in breast-conservation treatments that were alternatives to mastectomies, such as lumpectomies and radiation.

The colleagues kept in touch over the next few years. In 2003, Quiet had convinced Kuske to leave Wisconsin and join her practice in Arizona. The couple married in 2008.

Kuske's focus is on Brachytherapy, which treats the area after a lumpectomy by placing multiple catheters around the affected site twice a day for five days.

Quiet focuses on treatment using the new TrueBeam, a high-precision form of image-guided radiosurgery designed to deliver therapy accurately in shorter treatments.

Both methods are used to treat breast cancer more effectively, minimize discomfort, reduce length of treatments and improve the chances for a complete recovery and eradication of cancer.

Word of their practice spread throughout the medical community, with other breast-cancer physicians sending their patients to Kuske and Quiet. Despite launching a business in a recession, within three months of opening, Quiet said they were operating in the black.

"We can offer patients better options and less-invasive options in a warm, supportive environment," Quiet said. "Most of them go home smiling. They say, 'What you've told me . . . I know I can do this.' "

Breast-cancer survivor Cindy Beals continues to visit Kuske every six months after undergoing Brachytherapy.

"Everything he presented, everything I heard was exactly what I would like to do," said the Scottsdale nurse practitioner. " They are wonderful doctors. They make you feel comfortable, not afraid."