Twins have a strong bond, but the one between Billie Jo Rose and Bobbie Jo Sullivan is especially tight.
When they were 7, Billie was diagnosed with leukemia. Since she was a match, Bobbie didn’t flinch when it came to donating bone marrow for a transplant.
“They asked me if I wanted to be a donor and I was like, ‘Yes, absolutely,’” she told Dylan Dreyer on Wednesday’s 3rd hour of TODAY. “When it came down to it, they were like, ‘Well, if they're twins, if they're identical, this could be 100 percent,’ and lo and behold, it was.”
The procedure was a success and Billie was able to live a normal life.
“I would get tested, like it was every month and then I think it was the 15-year mark, they said that I was cured,” she said.
Twenty-five years later, though, Billie learned she had stage 2 breast cancer.
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“It was just shocking, but they said it was very treatable and then I went through chemotherapy, again, and then I opted to do the double mastectomy because I did not want this reoccurring in any way shape or form,” Billie said.
The news also crushed Bobbie.
“In my head, I'm like, ‘Why? Why is this always happening to her? Why can't I take some of this?’” she said.
Billie underwent cancer treatment and hoped to start a family, but struggled with infertility, ultimately seeing reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Kara Goldman at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.
“It became very clear that her ovarian function was irreparably damaged by her chemotherapy, and so she would be needing to consider egg donation and she immediately said, ‘My sister Bobbie is in. She has been talking about this with me for years,’ Goldman said. “And it was the plan from there on.”
Was Bobbie ever nervous about the idea of donating an egg?
“Not one bit,” she said. “So then when the doctors did mention, ‘Hey, do you want to do this? I was like, ‘Alright yeah,’” she said.
Bobbie donated her eggs to Billie, who wound up getting pregnant. This past May, she and her husband welcomed daughter June, about four weeks before her due date. Billie says her sister is the reason she is now a mom.
“It was just a whole thing of thanking Bobbie for being able to do this to make this all possible,” she said. “I have a family now and it was just like the best thing ever.”
After twice rallying to her sister’s side, Bobbie says her sister owes her.
“We joke around. Like when I'm older, if I need a kidney or something, I'm like, I know who I'm coming to,” Bobbie said.
Jokes aside, Bobbie said it’s been an honor to help her sister.
“To see the smile on her face and the smile on her husband's face, I would do it 100 times over again, without a doubt,” she said.