Twin Sisters Battle Leukemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosed in twin girls within two years


Lily and Bailey Dove are 10-year-old twin sisters. But these little girls have shared much more than genetics over the last two years.

In 2013, 8-year-old Lily was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

When the cancer first struck earlier that year, it initially caused Lily to turn pale and to lose energy. She then began taking frequent naps and struggled to exert herself in her favorite sports. A growing suspicion that something was wrong from Lily's parents eventually led to blood tests that discovered the leukemia.

ALL causes a patient's bone marrow to make too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). In a healthy patient, the bone marrow makes blood cells that mature over time. According to the National Cancer Institute, ALL is the most common form of cancer in children.

Doctors recommended that Lily receive immediate treatment. After a month of care, she went into remission.

But Lily's treatment continued for many months in a bid to prevent her leukemia from returning. Friends and family members offered their support, helping the Dove family balance her difficult treatment schedule.

"We found out how many friends we had after she was diagnosed," said mother Erin Dove, in an interview with CNN. "The treatment for this kind of leukemia is much longer than other cancers. People have to stick with you, and they did."

Lily's last chemotherapy treatment was on August 30. But Lily's experience wasn't the Dove family's last bout with cancer.

In March 2015, twin sister Bailey was also diagnosed with ALL after similar symptoms to Lily's prompted a visit to a wellness clinic. Doctors had previously told the Doves that there was a chance that Bailey was predisposed to the same cancer that Lily had beaten.

"When Lily was diagnosed, we were scared of the unknown," Dove told CNN. "This time, Ryan [the twins' father] and I were scared of the known."

So far, Bailey has responded well to treatment. And her sister's support has been critical.

"They have been close since birth," Dove said. "You could see the connection early. It's a twin thing, almost indescribable. They hardly have to talk, they can just look at each other, and you know they understand one another."