David , 16, and Cassidy Gangell, 18, support Daffodil Day.

Still reeling from their teenage daughter's Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, an Albany family's world was turned upside down weeks later when their son was diagnosed with the same cancer.

Wise beyond their years, 18-year-old Cassidy Gangell and her brother David, 16, said their case – siblings having the same cancer at the same time – had baffled doctors because it was extremely rare.

"All the doctors, specialists, oncologists and radiation therapists around us haven't heard of it happening and are not sure what's causing it," Cassidy said.

"You don't have time or energy to worry about why we both got it and why it had to happen to us ... so you just get on with it and try to have some normality as a family.
"It's definitely changed everything for us as a family."

A week after celebrating her birthday, Cassidy found a painless lump on her neck.

By February, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma 2A, and started treatment five weeks later at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

"Five weeks after that, Dave was diagnosed with the same cancer, but in a more advanced stage – stage 3B," she said.

Their rare case has reinforced the bond between the siblings, especially during tough times.

"Two hospitals, two different treatments, two lots of everything – it's bad enough having one person with cancer ... so it's definitely harder with both of us having it, but we've also helped each other a lot as well," said Cassidy, who is in remission.

David, who has missed footy training while undergoing chemotherapy at Princess Margaret Hospital, said it came as a shock not only to be told that he had cancer, but also that it was so advanced – with masses of multiplying tumours in his chest.

"It was more widespread throughout my body and I had different symptoms – a loss of weight, a cough for a good few months and night sweats," he said.

"Then a lump came up on my neck."

The Gangells have spoken out about their case to inspire others and raise awareness about cancer, which kills more than 115 Australians every day, according to the Cancer Council.

Daffodil Day, which is being held today, will raise money for the Cancer Council's life-saving research, patient support services and prevention programs.

The council's chief executive Susan Rooney said that every year nearly 12,000 people in WA hear the words "You have cancer".

"And close to 4000 West Australians will die from the disease," Ms Rooney said.

"This Daffodil Day, every daffodil and every donation brings us a step closer to defeating cancer. It also gives hope to the 83,000 West Australians living with cancer."

David and Cassidy remain confident of beating Hodgkin lymphoma and returning to their studies so that they can help others affected by cancer.

"No cancer is good, but Hodgkins is the more treatable one with the best outcome so we knew we had a good prognosis from the start," Cassidy said.

News break - August 22

The West Australian

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