Teenage twins are fighting cancer at the same time after being diagnosed just weeks apart.
Doctors told Mason and Sierra Malmsten, 16, they’ve never heard of fraternal twins – born from two separate eggs – both being diagnosed with cancer at the same time.
Mason developed a persistent cough which medics initially thought was asthma or bronchitis – but it turned out to be a cancerous mass the size of a softball on his lungs.
Three days after her brother was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Sierra found a lump on the back of her neck.
She initially suspected it was caused by sleeping in an awkward position, but a week on the results of Sierra’s biopsy concluded that she had Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The pair are now undergoing chemotherapy and are expected to make a full recovery.
Dad Gordon, said their doctor, who has been in the field for 35-years, has never heard of fraternal twins both being diagnosed with cancer just weeks apart.
Gordon from Manitoba, Canada, said: “Our kids are so determined to beat this thing and we are all right by their side supporting them every step of the way.
“We are in it to win it, and that is how it is going to stay.”
Mason was diagnosed earlier this month after developing a nasty cough.
Gordon said: “With everything going on with COVID of course we got him tested.
“It came back negative and so his doctor said it is probably his asthma.
“We were given a puffer and told that his cough would go away in two or three weeks, but it was just getting worse.
“He was still coughing up blood consistently, so we took him in for some more tests and that’s when we were told for the first time it was cancer.
“The mass is left of his heart, right of his esophagus, right underneath the top of his left lung, and right above his carotid arteries.”
Three days later Sierra found a lump, but Mason’s doctor reassured them it was “extremely unlikely” she had cancer too.
One week on and the results of Sierra’s biopsy concluded that she had Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The twins have now both completed their second rounds of chemotherapy, and they each have at least two more rounds to go.
For Mason a round of treatment involved one week of chemo at the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, then 14 days of rest.
Sierra has three days treatment at the Manitoba Cancer Care treatment centre, followed by four days rest and then one more day of treatment.
Their intense schedules means Gordon, 41, who works as an assistant manager at a restaurant chain and his wife Sherri, 43, who works at daycare have had to take leave from their jobs, putting extra strain on their finances.
They have another daughter Brooklyn, 12, who was being cared for by relatives.
The family has been staying in the Ronald McDonald House, a charity which provides families a place to stay near the hospital.
Brookyln was only allowed to join them two weeks ago due to COVID restrictions making things extremely difficult.
Gordon said: “The Ronald McDonald House is an amazing place, and we couldn’t of got through this without their support.”
“We live a two hour drive away from the hospitals where the twins are being treated, but the Ronald McDonald house is a just a five minute walk. It makes such a difference.”
The family have also received $16,000 of donations to their Go Fund Me page which was set up by their close friend Jody Arsenault.
Gordon added: “To have received this kind of support from total strangers is so heart warming, and we well never be able to express how grateful we are for the kindness everyone has shown us.
“Next week we find out for the first time how successful the chemotherapy has been getting rid of Mason’s and Sierra’s cancer.
“Our doctor has told us that with Mason’s type of cancer their is an 85% chance it will be completely cured and he will go on to live a happy life with no medical complications as a result.
“From the other 15% it is 50/50 between Mason recovering for up to five years and then relapsing or he doesn’t make it.”
“The figures are even better for Sierra, as doctors have said their is a 95% chance that she will go on to live a happy life with no medical complications as a result, which was a really positive thing to hear.”
“From the other five percent the probability is the same as Mason’s, she’ll either relapse after five years or won’t survive.”