Twins share heartbreaking cancer diagnosis

Posted at 9:41 PM, Sep 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 23:41:11-04

After nine months in the womb together, a set of 3-month-old twin girls, Kenedi and Kendal, are now sharing something else -- the same heartbreaking cancer diagnosis.

"It's devastating having one child diagnosed with cancer, but having two, it's just a lot more work," the girls' mom Abby Breyfogle told ABC News today. "There can be awful side effects of chemo -- we worry about that of course, but in the grand scheme of things we try to take it day by day."

"We're trying to enjoy all the time we can with them," she said.

Breyfogle, of Pierre, South Dakota, said two months after giving birth to Kenedi and Kendal, the mom of three noticed strange spots appearing on the both the girls' skin.

"We thought were bug bites but they weren’t," Breyfogle said. "Towards the of July they [nurses] said to wait it out another week to see if they had gone away and hadn’t."

"We went to the dermatologist and had a biopsy there," she added. "That Thursday they called me and said that the biopsy was malignant."

On Aug. 17, following a bone marrow biopsy, Breyfogle received confirmation that her twins both had acute myeloid leukemia.

"Everybody kept saying 'I don’t think so. It can't be that,'" she said. "Having two, of course it's sad, but we just immediately went to the next step because we need to fight this. The doctor said it's very rare."

On Aug. 19, Kenedi and Kendal were admitted into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Two days later, the girls received their first rounds of chemotherapy.

"This one is very rare and to have both identical twins have it at the same time, at least at the Mayo Clinic, in our group we have never seen it," said Dr. Shakila Kahn, division chair of pediatric hematology-oncology at the clinic. "Beginning of August, they had a very unusual presentation with the lesions. It's called leukemia cutis and that means leukemia in the skin. We do see it occasionally in children."

"We confirmed it and started them on therapy," she added. "They are doing OK and we are hoping that they continue to do well."

Despite a long road of treatments ahead of them, Breyfogle said she is confident that her daughters will remain strong throughout.

"Kenedi is our little one. She was only 3 pounds, 2 ounces when she was born, but she is as tough as tough can be," she said. "She's very chilled and relaxed and Kendal is the opposite. We call her 'grumpy pants' because she has a grumpy look, which really puts a smile on your face. They are complete opposites."

"Considering everything that’s going on, of course there are days where they are fussy, but overall they are great babies," Breyfogle added. "I can't complain."