Married couples typically share most things in life, and in the case of William "Mike” Shroder and Patty Stump, they share a few additional things, including a Mason business called Westshore Pizza.
And breast cancer diagnoses.
In 2006, Shroder noticed what he thought was an infected hair around his nipple while vacationing in Florida, which prompted a visit to his primary care physician.
"They took a look and then sent me for a mammogram,” he says. "I never thought it could have been breast cancer.”
But that was exactly what it was, and shortly after the diagnosis, Shroder had surgery to have the cancer removed and a mastectomy to potentially prevent recurrence.
One year and one week later, Stump went to her doctor for a yearly mammogram.
"When they told me what the results were after this visit, I was shocked,” she says. "Could I really have ‘the C word?’”
Stump had the lump removed and then underwent radiation therapy.
"I dealt with my diagnosis much differently than Mike,” Stump says. "He took it all in stride, and even got a tattoo that says ‘CURE’ with a pink ribbon to showcase his story. I had a very rough time with the diagnosis emotionally, but he supported me through it all—he is my rock.”
Stump was cancer free for four and a half years, but right before that desired five-year remission mark, a new cancer presented.
"Physicians used a protocol that was part of a breast conservation study at UC, and I underwent aggressive radiation two times a week for three weeks,” she says.
This couple also shared a breast physician: Elizabeth Shaughnessy, MD, PhD, a UC Health surgical oncologist, member of the UC Cancer Institute’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center and professor in the department of surgery at the UC College of Medicine.
"At any time in one’s life, anyone with a breast can possibly develop breast cancer—that would mean a man or a woman,” Shaughnessy says. "There’s only about a 30 percent chance that a man with breast cancer will carry a BRCA2 gene mutation.”
But the rarity of a couple sharing breast cancer is something Shaughnessy says she has never before witnessed.
Shroder and Stump, married 26 years, remain busy with their successful restaurant and their combined nine children and 24 grandchildren.
"We were so happy to have Dr. Shaughnessy and the rest of the UC Cancer Institute Comprehensive Breast Cancer team on our side,” Stump says. "We’re now very involved in getting the word out about breast cancer—and the fact that it can affect anyone, regardless of your sex.”