Patty Stump and Mike Shroder at Westshore Pizza, the Mason restaurant they opened in July. The couple are both breast cancer survivors. The Enquirer/Rachel Richardson
The marriage vow “in sickness and in health” is something Mike Shroder and Patty Stump know all too well.
Five years ago, the couple were stunned when Shroder, then 67, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Then, lightning struck twice. Nearly a year later to the day, Stump, now 55, learned she had breast cancer, too.
“I was completely floored,” said Stump. “I took it much harder than he did.”
“She called me and said, ‘it’s my turn,’” said Shroder. “I was a whole lot more worried about her than I was myself.”
The Mason couple will celebrate 25 years of marriage next March. But, more importantly, they are celebrating both being free of breast cancer.
It was during a vacation to Florida while applying sunscreen that Stump noticed a bump on Shroder’s breast. Shroder chalked it up to an infected hair, but followed up with his doctor several weeks later, who ordered more tests.
Biopsy results confirmed it. He had cancer. Three weeks later, he underwent a total mastectomy.
“It was a little different to say the least,” said Shroder with a laugh. “It was so well-oiled from step to step you didn’t have time to analyze it or think about it too much. We had the surgery one day and I went to work the next afternoon.”
Shroder was lucky, his doctors say. His cancer was caught early and he’s now in remission.
“Many people just aren’t aware that men can get breast cancer,” said Stump. “It makes you wonder how many times men start with breast cancer and it metastasizes into other cancer. Early detection is such a big part of the treatment.”
Stump should know. She credits early detection as a key role in her recovery, too.
Doctors had found benign calcium deposits in her breasts before. And she had no family history of breast cancer.
But her husband’s recent diagnosis made her suspicious and after discovering a new lump, she went to her doctor. Diagnosis: breast cancer.
Stump underwent a lumpectomy and 5 weeks of radiation. The couple coped just as they had for more than 20 years. Together.
“It was such a great support system,” said Stump, who’s now in remission. “If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it with your loved one. It’s kind of crazy, but you have someone who’s already been there and done it.”
“You look the devil in the eye and come out of it,” said Shroder. “It would be pretty hard to go through this and not be closer.”
Together, they’ve vowed to raise awareness about checking for breast cancer — even if you are a man.
Although women are 100 times more likely to face a breast cancer diagnosis, more than 2,000 men — 1 percent of all breast cancer cases — will develop breast cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Patty Stump and Mike Shroder at work in Westshore Pizza. The couple opened the pizzeria in July. The Enquirer/Rachel Richardson
Two years after his surgery, Shroder got a tattoo of a pink ribbon with the words “Cure” above it on his mastectomy site.
He can be seen about town in a van bearing a breast cancer awareness license plate that reads “IHADIT.”
The couple regularly take part in breast cancer awareness events and hold fundraisers at Westshore Pizza, the restaurant they opened in July at 6176 Tylersville Road in Mason
A fundraiser on Monday raised more than $300 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Another fundraiser is set for Friday, Oct. 7 as part of Slice of Hope’s National Pizza Party Day.
The couple will donate 10 percent of sales that day to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation, a national charity based in Seattle.
“I really want guys to know that they can be diagnosed with it,” said Shroder. “I figure maybe one guy will remember that when something comes up and he wont hesitate to have it looked at.”
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