My twin and I used to fight constantly. After his cancer diagnosis, our bond strengthened.

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My twin and I used to fight constantly. After his cancer diagnosis, our bond strengthened.
The author (right) and her twin brother.Courtesy of the author
  • I have a fraternal twin brother, and after puberty, we started fighting a lot.
  • We had the same group of friends, and I didn't want him dating my friends and vice versa.
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When your relationship starts out growing in a cramped womb, let's just say it's not a recipe for success. The twin relationship can be a tricky one — one that evolves and most certainly changes over time.

Starting at puberty, my twin brother and I really started getting on each other's nerves. Sure, things weren't perfect before that because we dealt with typical sibling rivalry stuff, but the opposition really began to boil during those tween and teen years.

We started to fight a lot

The fact that we ran with the same social circle only made things worse. We both played sports, so in middle and high school, our friends kind of blended together. That got awkward. I didn't really want him dating my friends, and he really didn't want me dating his. Now that I'm an adult, I get it. He didn't want his buddies thinking of his sister that way.

So, we fought — a lot. We argued over the normal stuff kids did in the 90s, like whose turn it is to wait 20 minutes for dial-up internet so we can chat on AOL's Instant Messenger. Or to turn down their janky CD player blaring the Smashing Pumpkins or Wu-Tang Clan. But there was definitely a tension underneath that loud music — a tension that felt inescapable in our house.

Being in different colleges helped, but then we fought again

When we went away to separate colleges, though, our relationship simmered. The distance and time away served us well. We visited each other and hung out with each other's friends amicably. It was kind of like the old cliché, the calm before the storm.

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Post-college, our relationship grew prickly again. Learning to be an adult without all of our friends around you in college is, well, the worst. Looking for jobs, keeping jobs, learning how to adult, and navigate relationships is much harder than anyone warned us. Oh wait, no one warned us. So, I did what many do—I went through a quarter life crisis. I came completely unhinged. And my twin brother wasn't too fond of my choices.

Sure, on the outside, I looked like I had it together. I was student teaching and waiting tables, but really, I was a mess. I ping-ponged back and forth between my long-term boyfriend (now husband) and another guy who my brother was not fond of. I partied way too much and internally had no idea what I wanted out of life. So, my twin stood by, pretty much pissed off at my life choices, and he wasn't afraid of letting me know.

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and everything changed

In the middle of this, my twin was diagnosed with testicular cancer — and that changed everything.

When I got the call, I was sitting in my first solo apartment. My mom told me how he basically diagnosed himself while reading Lance Armstrong's book, "It's Not About the Bike." She let me know when his surgery was going to be, so I was sure to take those days off work and travel a couple of hours to be home.

When I arrived home, my twin brother was sprawled out on our family room couch in pain. I thought maybe the tension in our relationship would have immediately melted away during his surgery. It hadn't. He likely felt embarrassed or just angry that he had to endure cancer at all. So, we didn't talk much. At 25, I didn't really know what to say. So, that first trip home while he had cancer certainly didn't help our relationship.

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But slowly, during my twin's cancer diagnosis, we began to soften for one another. My internal chaos settled down, and he began to heal. We began to heal. We started hanging out together more again, texting while trying to adult away from our parents, and just learning to love each other as two separate, evolving humans.

In my Greek wedding, my twin served as our koumbara — equivalent to best man — crowning my husband and me. And today, he's an incredible uncle to our children, spoiling them with both gifts and adoration. We're able to laugh about all of our funny inside twin jokes from our childhood and be each other's biggest fans and moral support.

So, finally, I can say that being a twin is pretty much the best.

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