A pair of identical twin sisters have been diagnosed with the same breast cancer just three weeks apart.
Earlier this year, Olympic fencing silver medalist Hanna Thompson felt a lump in her right breast, but assumed it was a clogged milk duct from breastfeeding her son.
However, she was alarmed when her identical twin sister, Metta Siebert, a nurse practitioner, was diagnosed with breast cancer in her left breast in June.
Thompson, 35, who lives in San Francisco, California, decided to get a mammogram just be to safe.
As it turns out, she had the exact same breast cancer, reported ABC 7.
Despite having to both undergo aggressive treatments, the sisters say that they’re grateful they had each other to lean on.
Metta Siebert, 35, from Kansas City, Missouri, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2019 after feeling a lump in her left breast. Her twin sister, Hanna Thompson, felt a lump in her right breast but assumed it was a clogged milked duct. Pictured, left and right: Thompson (left in both) and Siebert
After Siebert’s diagnosis, Thompson, from San Francisco, California, decided to get a mammogram and diagnosed with cancer in her right breast three weeks later. Pictured: Thompson, left, and Siebert
Siebert and Thompson are what is known as mirror image twins.
It’s not a category – like identical or fraternal – but it describes a characteristic in which twins have asymmetrical features.
This means that one is left-handed (Metta) and the other right-handed (Hanna). One has a stronger left eye and the other a stronger right eye.
‘We were more or less attached at the hip,’ Thompson told ABC7. ‘We even went to the same college together.’
They both competed on the fencing team at Ohio State University and were both named NCAA All-American fencer, a honor that means they are among the best players in their particular sport.
However, it was Thompson that went on to qualify for the US Olympic team, winning a silver medal at the 2008 games in Beijing, China.
Their cancers even mirror image each other, with Siebert’s being in the left breast and Thompson’s being in the right breast.
‘To say it was a one-two-punch was an understatement,’ Siebert told ABC7.
Between five and 10 percent of all breast cancers are believed to be hereditary and are passed down from generation to generation, according to non-profit Breastcancer.org.
The majority of hereditary breast cancers are due to mutations in two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Everybody has these genes, which repair damage to cells and inhibit abnormal cell growth.
The average US woman has a 12 percent chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, Breastcancer.org says.
Both sisters tested positive for a genetic mutation for the BRCA2 gene, which gave them, a 70 percent risk of developing the disease. Siebert (right) and Thompson (left) are both currently undergoing chemotherapy and will likely need radiation afterwards
Thompson (center) won a silver medal in fencing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China
However, women who have one or both BRCA mutations have at least a 70 percent risk of developing breast cancer.
Siebert and Thompson both decided to undergo genetic testing shortly thereafter and learned they both carry the BRCA2 gene.
A 2016 study led by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that when a twin is diagnosed with cancer, the other faced a significantly higher risk of developing any form of cancer.
The sisters have started a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of their medical bills as they undergo chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatments.
As of Wednesday morning, more than $26,500 has been raised out of a $60,000 goal.
In the midst of all of this, the sisters say the strange silver lining is that they have each other to lean on as they battle the disease together.
‘There’s no other person I’d rather be going through it with than my twin sister,’ Thompson told ABC7.
Siebert added: ‘Not that I would wish it upon her, but it maybe makes it a teeny bit easier.’