Identical twins often share a lot in their lives, but breast cancer isn't the sort of thing we usually think about them both having to endure -- especially not around the same time. But that's exactly what happened to 34-year-olds Kelly McCarthy and Kristen Maurer.
When Kelly was diagnosed in 2011 with triple-negative breast cancer, a hard-to-treat form of cancer whose growth is not fueled by hormones, she was nine months pregnant. Her son was born a week after her diagnosis, and she soon began treatment, chemotherapy, surgery to remove her right breast, and radiation. Only a few months later, Kristen got tested and was diagnosed with a very early-stage cancer in her left breast, according to the AP. It's as heartbreaking as it is hard to believe, right?
While the sisters were obviously devastated for one another upon each diagnosis, they managed to come up with an amazing way to help one another battle the disease ...
Just this week, Kelly had a second mastectomy and reconstruction of both breasts. Reconstruction usually involves implants and/or a woman's own tissue, but Kelly didn't have enough extra tissue, plus radiation damaged tissue near her breasts. So Kristen volunteered to be a donor!
As a result, surgeons were able to use some of Kelly's own tissue to make one breast and a transplant of lower abdominal skin and fat tissue from her sister for the other! Amazing, right?
Kristen herself initially had a double mastectomy -- which was recommended because Kelly's cancer was so aggressive -- but her case didn't require chemo or radiation. She then had reconstruction with implants after the birth of her second child last March.
The experience has obviously brought the twins together in a whole new incredible way. No woman should ever have to endure any of what Kelly and Kristen have now been through, but thank goodness they had one another to lean on in such an amazing way. And in the end, they even admit it has made them even more in sync (as if that's possible, right?). As Kelly put it, "I feel closer. Her tissue is over my heart." Ahhh -- pass the Kleenex!
What's the greatest sacrifice you've ever made for a loved one or they've made for you?