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Zac was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia in February after a two-week fever that brought on a rash and extreme lethargy.Though Zane seemed in fine health, he had a low-grade fever. Parents Bob and Marty decided to get him checked out so he wouldn’t infect Zac.

To their horror, just 13 days later, Zane was diagnosed with the same rare form of bone cancer.

The identical twin brothers Zane and Zac Taylor have always relied on each other for everything,from taking their first steps to making friends, they have been inseparable.

Daily Mail reports that the five-year-old boys are now united in a devastating new stage of their lives: they both have cancer.

‘It doesn’t even seem possible,’ Mr Taylor said.

‘It’s so shocking to comprehend that both of your kids are fighting cancer at the same time. Even as I’m saying it right now, it doesn’t seem like it could be true.

‘Zane’s fever was nothing you’d ever take child to the doctor for. It was barely over 99, and he was still playing like normal. We just took him to the doctor to protect Zac. We didn’t want Zac to get sick.

Though Zane seemed in fine health, he had a low-grade fever. Parents Bob and Marty decided to get him checked out so he wouldn’t infect Zac.

To their horror, just 13 days later, Zane was diagnosed with the same rare form of bone cancer.

‘It was the worst kind of déjà vu. It just didn’t seem possible.’

The boys have donated cord blood to a clinical trial in a desperate bid to understand how they both developed the disease.

Researchers at Mott have no idea if or when they can ever give an answer to that question.

Though it is clear the disease starts in the womb, they are still baffled by how it develops over time.

Even Dr Rama Jasty Rao, the boys’ pediatric oncologist at the University of Michigan CS Mott’s Children’s Hospital, was shocked given the type of leukemia.

It is not unheard of for identical twins to develop the same cancer.

Their risk is far higher than it would be for fraternal twins or siblings.

Most cases of twin cancer diagnoses are seen within the first 12 months. They carry a significant risk until the age of six, from which point the risk gradually decreases over time.

However, in the case of twin leukemia, 85 per cent of cases start in the B cells.

Zane and Zac both have T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia – an incredibly rare form of the disease.

‘The odds of both twins getting this type of cancer at age 5 are so small. It was very unexpected,’ Dr Rao said.

‘Taking care of one child with leukemia is intense enough. To have two kids diagnosed at the same time, it’s unbelievable.’

The diagnosis came just four months after the Nebraska family had started their new life in Michigan since Mr Taylor got a job at Chevrolet’s headquarters.

For now the boys have been told they have ‘bad guys’ that they need to fight with repeated hospital visits.

They are both undergoing intense chemotherapy.

Though it was intensely difficult at first, their parents say both boys are seeming better now, with Zane baking a lot and Zac swimming.

Both love playing with each other and with their four-year-old sister Zoe.

The family is sharing their story as part of Mott’s Block Out Cancer month

There are two different types of white blood cells – lymphocytes and myeloid cells.

They work together to fight infection.

Normally, white blood cells develop, repair and reproduce in an orderly and controlled way.

But in leukaemia, the process gets out of control and the cells continue to divide in the bone marrow, but do not mature.

These immature dividing cells fill up the bone marrow and stop it from making healthy blood cells.

As the leukaemia cells fail to mature, they cannot work properly to fight infections.

This leads to an increased risk of infection, and because the bone marrow cannot make enough healthy red blood cells and platelets, symptoms such as anemia and bruising can occur.

There are four main types of leukemia:
acute lymphoblastic / lymphocytic
acute myeloid
chronic lymphocytic
chronic myeloid

Chronic forms of the disease tend to affect adults and are very rare in children.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is specifically a cancer of the immature lymphocytes, called lymphoblasts or blast cells.

The causes of ALL are not yet known but studies have found identical twins and brothers and sister are at an increased risk of the disease.

Symptoms of ALL are similar to other forms of leukemia, and include:
a child becoming lethargic and tired due to anemia, caused by a lack of red blood cells
bruising bleeding taking longer to stop, due to low levels of platelets, which help blood clot
some children suffer infections because of low levels of white blood cells
a child is likely to feel generally unwell
suffer aches and pains
swollen lymph glands

Source: Macmillan Cancer Support


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