Giving birth to beautiful twin girls was a happy occasion for this family in Michigan. However, a routine checkup revealed devastating news—a rare childhood cancer. Fortunately, the twins healed miraculously.
Alissa and Michael Dunn were happy to welcome their twin girls, Madeline and Isabella, to the family on July 4, 2007. Speaking to CBN, Alissa said, “They were 5 pounds, 12 ounces and 5 pounds, 8 ounces, so they were perfect sized little girls. And they surprised us and came on the fourth of July so we call them our firecracker babies.”
However, what happened during a routine checkup two months after Madeline’s birth was a parent’s worst nightmare.
“You could sense the tone change after he really started to physically examine her, and you could see his face change, and I think we both knew this wasn’t going to be a normal checkup,” Michael said.
The doctor suspected Madeline had cancer after seeing the ultrasound. They were referred to another hospital for further tests.
“On the drive to the hospital we feared the worst but we hoped and prayed for the best. We hoped that it would be routine, but deep down inside we worried it could be the worst,” Michael said.
“When we first got there they said that there’s no way it is cancer. She was too young… The doctor came in shaking and said, ‘it is,’” Alissa said.
Madeline had a rare childhood cancer–stage 4 neuroblastoma, and a tumor the size of a softball was growing in her abdomen.
When both twins were taken to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Medical Center, Dr. Jeffrey Taub ran tests on Madeline and felt something amiss. The other twin then caught their attention.
“My colleague and I had a feeling that something was not right. We asked if we could look at Isabella’s abdomen. She went for an ultrasound immediately, and unfortunately found that she had what looked like the exact same tumor that Madeline had,” Dr. Taub said.
Dr. Taub said that the best form of treatment would be chemotherapy, and the twins were isolated—even the parents were not allowed to touch them.
Hoping for a recovery, the twins were put together during the second round of chemotherapy, and their health improved miraculously. “They let us put them together for the first time and they recognized each other. It was huge. They started kicking and smiling and they had not done that in a month,” Alissa said.
A few weeks later, they could return home. As the family gathered at their home, they received the best news.
“It was the 14th of December, and the Christmas tree was lit. We had our parents over and we were celebrating the season. We got that phone call that there was no evidence of disease. I remember hanging up the phone and just feeling like, “Really? WOW!” Alissa said.
Since then, they have celebrated many birthdays on July 4.
“We’re just so in love every day, we’re so thankful,” Alissa told PEOPLE. “We celebrate every day that they wake up and they’re healthy,” she added.
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