Twin sisters Madeline and Isabella Dunn were diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at just two months of age.
Parents Alyssa and Michael said the news came at what was expected to be a routine checkup in 2007, media reports say.
The bad news began when the pediatrician discovered a softball-sized growth on Madeline’s stomach.
“You could see his face change, and I think we both knew this wasn’t going to be a normal checkup,” Michael Dunn said of the doctor’s reaction, according to Little Things.
He decided to examine Isabella immediately, and quickly discovered that she also had a cancerous growth.
Both girls were diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare cancer found usually in children under the age of 1.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Taub, the tumor appeared to grow in Madeleine while she was a fetus, and it was later passed on to Isabella.
“The scenario is extremely, extremely rare,” Taub told People magazine. “It starts in the adrenal gland, which sits on top of your kidney and it spreads to other parts of the body. Because they're identical twins, their blood vessels are connected to each other so blood cells can pass from one fetus to the other.”
“Since they're identical, her immune system wouldn't recognize them as being foreign,” he added.
The twins began chemotherapy immediately, becoming so ill that their parents could not even touch them.
But after Madeline and Isabella were reunited, they began to improve.
The girls returned home to complete their treatment, and doctors gave them the all-clear three months later.
“God chose to heal them,” Michael told Little Things.
Madeline and Isabella have small scars from their treatment, but have otherwise fully recovered. Alyssa says Isabella is loving and caring, while her sister is full of energy.
Taub, who was involved in treating Isabella and Madeleine, attended their 8th birthday party last year.
“Being an oncologist is a really stressful, challenging type of business, but when you have patients like Isabella and Madeline, that sort of reminds me why I went into this and the outcomes we can achieve,” Taub said to People. “That's what we're always aiming or striving for.”