Twice the Fight: Twin sisters battle leukemia

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(ABC 6 News) – “Your child has cancer” is something no parent wants to hear. For one family, they not only heard the words once but, twice.

Kenedi and Kendal Breyfogle are identical twins and their battle with cancer is somewhat identical.

In 2015 at three months old, the girls were diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. A type of blood and bone marrow cancer.

“I didn’t really believe it. Our pediatrician didn’t really believe it either,” said Abby Breyfogle, the twins’ mom.

Living in South Dakota at the time, the girls underwent treatment at Mayo Clinic. After one round of chemotherapy, they achieved remission. They completed three more rounds during their three-month-long hospital stay.

“Still being exhausted from having twin newborns, and a two-and-a-half-year-old, and trying to navigate the cancer world was very isolating. Being stuck there, after the first round or two, we finally got out feet under us.”

Despite their illness, they were still two baby girls learning to navigate the world.

“They would cry, we did physical therapy, occupational therapy, when they started moving after treatment, Kendal would crawl over and pull your [Kenedi’s] NG tube out.”

Kenedi chimed in with a giggle, and said “yeah.”

Life was somewhat back to normal, and the family went to the happiest place on earth, Disney World.

In February 2017, Kendal’s eyes started to swell and her blood counts were low. It was back to Mayo for treatment and a bone marrow transplant.

“Every week after that, Kenedi had to get poked because they thought she was going to relapse too. Since they’re identical twins and had the same treatment.”

“I don’t like getting poked. I scream,” said Kenedi.

Kenedi doesn’t remember a lot from that time. As she gets older, counseling helps her express her emotions. She said she sometimes gets mad about what happened.

Breyfogle family at Disney World (credit: Abby Breyfogle)

In June 2017, the family learned Kendal’s transplant was unsuccessful. Her cancer was deemed terminal. With little time left, the family took one last trip to Disney.

Kenedi recalled: “We were at the hotel once, there were little baskets, and I think there was Anna, Elsa, and Cinderella. I was Anna.”

For mom, she said she was still in denial.

“In the back of our minds, we said ‘let’s just make this the best time it can be.'”

Giving it one last shot, Kendal was approved for a drug called Mylotarg. The chance of it helping was .01%. A few months later, Kendal died in her dad’s arms.

“I think it’s all made us appreciate the simplest moments more,” said Abby.

“But it’s hard because whenever there’s something that’s really happy, there’s a moment of sadness because there should be two.”

The Breyfogle family continues to honor Kendal’s memory. Raising money for LLS (the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,) and sharing their story with others.