A pair of identical 20-year-old twins who have always lived as each other's 'shadow' have only a few months left together because one of them has been diagnosed with bone cancer.
Emily Blunt, 20, was told she had osteosarcoma last summer and in spite of taking chemotherapy for months, the cancer has spread and the keen hockey player has been given only a short time to live.
AdvertisementHer twin sister Kath, studying sports science at Hertfordshire University has to now get reconciled to a life without her other half.
"It was heartbreaking to hear the news," Kath said. "You don't know how to react and just try to stay strong. We are inseparable and have hardly been away from each other, apart from going to university.
"We've always been so close. We've been each other's shadow and I can't imagine not being able to talk to her. It does feel like part of me will be cut away, cut in two," she added.
Over a year ago, Emily, from Longlevens in Gloucestershire, felt pain and noticed swelling in her shoulder during her second term at Exeter University studying Sociology. The pain became so intense that she was unable to lift her arm even to brush her long blonde hair.
When she went for an X-ray the doctors discovered she had a 22cm tumor in her right arm and after 10 visits to the doctor, she was diagnosed as having bone cancer last August.
Emily endured chemotherapy for the next ten months in Birmingham, but as the cancer spread to her lungs and ribcage, she was told last week that the disease was inoperable.
Emily said she was comforted by the thought that her twin would continue to live her full term because it was in a sense, like her other half that continues to live.
"We have strong personalities but we are very close. We have the same taste and a few times when we have gone shopping separately we have come back with exactly the same items," Emily said.
"We also have sympathy pains - when I had a biopsy on my arm it was swollen and when Kath came to see me she had a red rash and swelling in the same area.
"It is a great comfort to me to know Kath will carry on because she is part of me," she added.
The twins' mother Joceline said the family wanted to raise awareness about osteosarcoma and were planning a number of fund-raising events for the Bone Cancer Research Trust, to help keep their minds off the impending doom.
Mrs. Blunt said: "These young people are vulnerable and they need to be aware."
"Kids are not being diagnosed - the doctors need to know more about it. We don't want other people to go through what we have been through," she added.
Osteosarcoma is most common in people aged between 10 and 25 and around 400 young people are diagnosed with it and another bone cancer - Ewing's sarcoma - every year.
According to David Fisher, from the Bone Cancer Research Trust, "It is rare and because the symptoms are generally pain and swelling around the affected area, quite often it gets misdiagnosed as growing pains or a sport's injury."
"But the majority of osteosarcoma can be spotted with an X-ray," Fisher added.
The survival rate for osteosarcoma is 55 per cent at five years after diagnosis.
Mr Fisher said, "The treatment is very harsh, you have to go through radiotherapy and chemotherapy and quite often a limb has to be amputated."