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Lenexa woman, twin sister in California share cancer diagnosis, desire to save lives

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LENEXA, Kan. — A Lenexa woman, Metta Siebert, and her identical twin sister in California, Hanna Thompson, have been close throughout their lives.

Now, the 35-year-old twins have a new and unfortunate bond — breast cancer.

Siebert and Thompson both have a tumor in their left breast. Both also have

the BRCA2 gene,

which put them at increased risk for breast cancer.

Hoping to help ensure early detection, the sisters have started encouraging people with family history of breast cancer to get tested to determine if they have the BRCA gene.

Siebert’s oncologist,

Dr. Gregory Crane

at the

University of Kansas Cancer Center,

explained that the BRCA2 gene indicates future cancer risk.

“Her risk of developing subsequent cancers is very high, so usually we recommend that they undergo bilateral mastectomy … and eventually have their ovaries removed to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer in the future,” Crane said.

Siebert and Thompson both plan to undergo a double mastectomy following chemotherapy.

“I found out at the beginning of June,” Siebert said. “I was in the shower and I felt a lump on my left breast. We have a strong history of breast cancer. My grandmother and all of her sisters, my great aunts and my great grandmother all heave breast cancer. Several of them have passed away from it, so, with that I said, ‘You know, I’d better get this checked out.'”

She called Thompson after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis and learned that Thompson also had felt a lump in her left breast.

Before her sister called, Thompson called her doctor about the lump and was told it likely developed because of changes to the breast because she was breast feeding.

But after the telephone call from Siebert, Thompson got a mammogram, which led to more testing and a diagnosis that the lump was actually cancer.

“There was a lot of crying,” Thompson said.

Siebert and Thompson were especially shocked because they are relatively young and in great health. Siebert was training for a marathon and Thompson is

a 2008 Olympic silver medalist

in fencing.

Both woman are married with children and look forward to finishing treatment, so they can resume their lives.

“We want people to learn from our story,” Siebert said. “You can get testing for $400, even if you don’t have insurance. It’s not even a needle. They send you a little kit and you just swab it in your mouth, send it back and they can tell you whether or not you have this. The risk of you having this, particularly if you are of Jewish descent, the risk of you having this BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, is one in 40 — pretty high if you have any history.”

Thompson added, “There are lots of places that will test Jewish descendants for free. They won’t even charge you the $300.”

Both sisters call each other or FaceTime each other almost daily to encourage each other. Their new medical common denominator has created an even stronger between two sisters who’ve already had a special connection throughout their lives.

The twins are sharing their story and raising money through

a Go Fund Me

for bills and household expenses.

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