Abby and Aaron Breyfolgle were more than excited to take home their premature twin daughters from the hospital after the girls spent a month in the NICU.
However, the Breyfolgles discovered three weeks later the identical newborns had sores covering their tiny bodies and rushed them to the hospital in August 2015.
Both Kendal and Kenedi were diagnosed with a strain of leukemia typically found in adults and began chemotherapy at three months old at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Kendal is an identical twin and both she and her sister Kenedi (pictured together) were diagnosed with cancer after their mother Abby Breyfolgle noticed sores on their bodies
After a round of treatment on the babies, the girls were in remission as of September 2015 and discharged from the hospital after a second round that November.
The happiness was temporary – Kendal’s cancer was back after 19 months this February but Kenedi was still in remission.
Now the devastated family is raising funds, desperately looking for a way to save two-year-old Kendal.
They are also fighting against changes to the Affordable Care Act and argue their toddler could possibly die if she was denied coverage.
Abby Breyfolgle spent three weeks on bed rest at a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, hospital before giving birth to the girls prematurely at 33 weeks.
She was relieved when she was able to take home her daughters, but it was short-lived after she discovered the sores on the girls.
The mother-of-three, who has an older daughter named Teagan, said the open wounds looked like bug bites and kept getting worse.
Abby brought her infants to the hospital for a skin biopsy and results showed they had malignant cells, which eventually led to the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
The cancer had already spread to their bone marrow and it was only a matter of time before it made its way to their blood stream, Abby said.
Kendal Breyfolgle, two, had her acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cancer return after 19 months in February. The toddler from Pierre, South Dakota, was diagnosed with the cancer at three months old in August 2015
Acute myeloid leukemia is a rare strain of cancer and is uncommon in patients before the age of 45. The average lifetime risk of developing the disease is less than one percent.
The disease is serious, with acute indicating if the cancer is not treated quickly it could be fatal within months.
AML starts in the bone barrow and then generally moves into the blood stream.
The survival rate for adults with AML is 50 to 60 percent.
There are no figures for infants because it is so rare.
Aaron and Abby Breyfolgle are hoping to get Kendal into a medical trial. Pictured: The Breyfolgle family with the couple’s oldest child Teagan (center)
Kendal and Kenedi were tiny when they started chemotherapy, weighing only eight pounds. They had to be tube fed and were very susceptible to infection
Upon the news of the diagnosis, the Breyfolgles immediately launched into action and began chemotherapy for Kendal and Kenedi.
Since the girls were so tiny, weighing eight pounds at the start of treatment, they had to be tube fed and were very susceptible to infection.
After nearly six months in the hospital receiving treatment, both girls were in remission and could return home in late 2015.
Then in February of this year, Kendal relapsed, something Abby said was hard to admit.
Abby wrote on her blog, Twice the Fight: ‘Not only did Kendal have cellulitis in her face, sinusitis, and terrible ear infections, but there were seven percent leukemia blasts in Kendal’s blood.
‘Her cancer was back. How quickly it moved. Two weeks prior there wasn’t a trace of it. Even the Friday before, two days prior, there weren’t any blasts in her blood.
‘I will tell you that a relapse of cancer is so much harder than the initial cancer diagnosis. With the initial diagnosis, you are just surviving. You don’t know enough to have the fears that you have once there is a relapse.’
The family is currently raising funds for Kendal’s treatment, in hopes that a medical trial will help find a cure for the toddler.
For now, they want to take a family trip, somewhere where they can put cancer in the back of their minds.
Abby said to WCNC: ‘It would be nice to have a family vacation where we don’t have to worry about germs or medicines or being in the hospital or lines because the last six months that’s all we’ve known.’
The Breyfogles are also joining the fight against the changes of the Affordable Care Act because they said they risk losing their health care coverage, which is essential in treating Kendal.
In a video story posted on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Advocacy Facebook page, Abby proclaimed that Kendal has preexisting conditions, which could eliminate her coverage in the future.