On July 4, 2007, Alissa and Michael Dunn became the proud parents of identical twins Isabella and Madeline. The young parents couldn’t have been happier — a few days after childbirth they returned home with two healthy little girls. Or at least that’s what everyone thought.
Only two months later they became concerned when their pediatrician noticed that Madeline’s stomach was swollen. “You could tell how the doctor’s face changed. I think we both knew this wasn’t going to be a normal checkup,” remembers Michael.
Madeline underwent an ultrasound. “When we first got there it was no way that it was cancer because she was too young… but then the doctor started shaking and said it is,” recalled Alissa. Indeed the results confirmed that at only two months of age Madeline had developed a rare form of childhood cancer.
But soon the doctors had even more bad news. The young parents were shocked when their other daughter Isabella began to show the same symptoms. The evidence confirmed the worst: both sisters had the same type of cancer in exactly the same place.
Their condition continued to get worse and seeing that their livers were already filled with cancer cells, the doctors could only give them a strong chemotherapy treatment and keep them isolated. Not even their parents were allowed to touch them.
But in an attempt to help their recovery, doctors put Isabella and Madeline together during the second round of chemotherapy. And for the first time in a long time their health and their mood improved greatly. “They let us put them together for the first time and they recognized each other. It was huge. They started kicking and smiling and they had not done that in a month,” remembers Alissa.
The improvement continued and within a few weeks they were able to return home where they received further treatment. And months after receiving the devastating news, something very unexpected happened. It was December 14, and the family was gathered at their home which was already festively decorated for Christmas. The phone rang and the voice on the other end delivered news of a true Christmas miracle: there was no trace of the disease in either of the two twins.
Since that day, Isabella and Madeline have celebrated many more Christmases and birthdays with their relieved parents. The twin sisters are now healthy and happy young girls who are grateful to be alive after going through such an ordeal so early in life.
You can watch Michael and Alissa telling their touching story in this video:
The chances of two identical twins being born with a rare disease in the same part of the body is highly unlikely. But it was just as unlikely that the two of them would recover without any relapses or complications, and yet it happened.
We wish Isabella, Madeline and their parents many more happy and healthy years together!