This lovely lady is Mrs. Paqui Kelly; she is the loving and caring wife of college football coach Brian Kelly, who has been the head coach for the Notre Dame Irish /football Team at the University of Notre Dame since 2009.
Prior to joining the Notre Dame Football staff in December 2009, coach Kelly was the coach the Cincinnati Bearcats at the University of Cincinnati; he started his coaching career at his alma mater Assumption College, first as linebackers coach, second as defensive coordinator and finally as softball coach.
After he left Assumption, Kelly joined Grand Valley State University in 1987.
As noted, Coach Kelly’s wife is the Paqui, is the former Francisca Barbara Craig, who was born on February 9, 1966.
Paqui met her husband while he was working at Grand Valley State; they started dating, tied the knot on July 2, 1994; and have been blessed with three incredible children; Patrick, Grace, and Kenzel.
In May 2003, at the age of 38, Paqui Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had chemo and radiation. Mrs. Kelly has five sisters, Monie one of them was too diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.
“We found that my maternal grandmother was one of 13 and she got sick when (my dad was nine),” Paqui explains. “Back then what do you tell a nine-year-old boy? All he knew was that she had woman problems. I mean, people were more worried about the depression and a world war than cancer. So we kind of traced it back to that. It was just a 60-year miss.”
Runs in the family
With that news Paqui and her sister tested for the inherited cancer gene, her sisters Gini, Mary and Rosie tested negative, but her other sister Eli rested positive.
After the doctor told Paqui there was a 95% chance her cancer would come back, if she didn’t have a double mastectomy, Monie has hers after her diagnosis and Eli decided to have the same procedure, even though she was not diagnosed with cancer.
Paqui was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time; nine months shy of her 5th wedding anniversary; this time the cancer was more aggressive and she has to go through another surgery and a reconstruction.
“I already felt like I had been a pretty good patient, and I had done my time” Paqui says. “And I said this is the way I look at it. You have some of these ladies that have bacon on the one side; that’s been cooked because of radiation and bacon on the other side that hasn’t been cooked. And you’re the doctor that’s going to do the reconstruction, and you don’t know what you’re going to find until you get in there. I said, `I’m not coming back so if you’re not sure bring all your tools.’
“And I joked with my one sister because, well, we’re sisters. She had the TRAM flap (a tissue flap procedure that uses muscle, fat and skin from the abdomen to create a new breast) which I called the tummy tuck. The nurse said, `That’s not what we call it but I don’t think you’re a candidate; and I asked her what she meant. She said, `There’s not enough of you to do that.’ First I said woot woot, then I called my sister and told her and then I went to lunch. That was the way I looked at it!”
It was due to her battle with cancer that Paqui and Brian created the Kelly Cares Foundation.