Fighting cancer is a mission for a pair of married doctors who work at M.D. Cancer Center. It’s a mission they now hold even closer to their hearts – and their chests.
Dr. Irene Newsham is an assistant professor at the nation’s leading cancer hospital in the heart of the world’s largest medical center.
Her husband, Dr. Oliver Bogler, is the VP of global academic affairs at M.D. Anderson. He travels the world to improve education and treatment of cancer.
After spending decades studying cancer, Dr. Newsham was 42 when she felt a lump in her own breast.
“Cancer diagnosis for anyone turns your world around,” she said. “You have a hard time believing it. You feel shell-shocked.”
Dr. Newsham became one of the 130,000 patients seen at M.D. Anderson each year.
Before she finished her treatment, her husband was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The chances of a man getting it are small,” Dr. Bogler said. “The probability of a second person in a couple getting the same disease seem very improbable.”
“Here we go again,” Dr. Newsham said when she called her parents to break the news.
They also had to explain it to their two children.
“One of the questions they asked us was, ‘Does everybody get cancer?’” Dr. Bogler said. “Because for them, it was two out of two.”
Both Irene & Oliver show no sign of the disease after going through the same treatment: chemotherapy; surgery; radiation; and hormone therapy.
“Until you receive your own cancer diagnosis, you really don't understand the complete depth of it,” he said. “Once I was diagnosed, I understood her (Irene) a lot better again. I actually value that tremendously.”
Breast cancer is rare for men. Only one in a thousand are diagnosed with breast cancer and just one percent of all breast cancer patients are men. That adds up to about 2,200 cases a year in the U.S. That’s why it's often overlooked.
Oliver’s photo ended up being published in the New York Times in 2013.
If you find a lump in your breast, male or female, you should contact your doctor.