Twin sisters receive breast cancer diagnoses months apart

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 6:28 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Getting a breast cancer diagnosis can feel scary and isolating, but early detection can save lives and offer the best prognosis. Twin sisters from eastern Iowa didn’t have a family history of breast cancer, so they leaned on each other when they received their diagnoses just months apart.

Out of seven children, Sarah Seidl and Rebecca Lesnik are the youngest. Born minutes apart, they share a bond that’s lasted almost 50 years. “We talk every day almost,” says Seidl. “We disagree with each other constantly; we’re always fighting. And that is also possibly a twin thing, I don’t know.”

Both women stayed on top of their annual mammograms. And when Lesnik’s came back with some concerns more than two years ago, her doctors kept an eye on her. “[I] did the MRI in the Fall of 2020 then the mammogram in the Fall of 2021. On that MRI, they found that it looked more suspicious,” she says.

Lesnik had cancer. Her doctors caught it early at stage 0. She opted for a double mastectomy to minimize the chance of her cancer returning. A month before her surgery in January of 2022, her sister had her routine check. “It came back with dense tissue, like the year before. And I followed up with my provider, cause it was basically, we’ll see you next year. And I said, well now I’ve got family history,” says Seidl. “She said here’s what we’re going to do and she’s scribbling on a piece of paper; cause you’ve got a 30-something percent chance of getting cancer now that your twin has it.”

An MRI breast biopsy gave Seidl her Stage 1 diagnosis last March, just months after her sister. “I’m probably one of the few people that would tell you, and I’m not lying or exaggerating, I’m really happy that I got cancer. Because if I hadn’t, you wouldn’t have found yours and it was already bigger than mine,” Lesnik said to her sister.

Seidl had genetic testing done to see if genes played a role in their diagnoses, but it showed no elevated risk. Without regular screenings and each other, the sisters may have not caught their cancer so early. They’ve created a team for this year’s Especially for You Race in Cedar Rapids, which raises money for mammograms and breast care services for those in need. Team Twin Peaks will support the cause, advocating for women’s health with 30 friends and family by their side. “Wur family has always been very tight-knit, so we’ve remained that way. It’s improved relationships, if anything, it’s improved relationships in my life,” says Seidl.