BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (KFSN) --Patients with rare cancers often feel lonely and misunderstood. But could they find comfort in each other? Ivanhoe has the story of two young strangers who became instant friends when they found out they were battling the same disease and both were in their early twenties.
Morgan Ellison and Madison McDaniel never knew each other until they stepped into this room last year.
Morgan said, "She was the first young person I saw in the infusion clinic."
Madison told Ivanhoe, "We were the youngest people by far."
The two young women are fighting a rare form of ovarian cancer that only affects about 1,000 women in the U.S. each year. As luck would have it, they were diagnosed within weeks of each other and received treatment at the same hospital.
Morgan said, "It was so nice to have someone to talk to."
Madison agreed, "It was nice having someone going through the same thing."
The girls had to endure nine grueling weeks of chemo. They talked and texted about the painful side effects.
When cancer patients bond and have a support system, studies show it can boost their psychological well-being and help them feel less anxious, fearful and depressed. Rebecca Arend, MD, gynecologic oncologist at UAB, says she saw the friendship between Madison and Morgan do exactly that.
Doctor Arend said, "Having that experience together was really beautiful as a physician to be able to witness."
Today is the very last day of chemo for both girls- and it's emotional for everyone.
They get to ring a bell to celebrate their last treatment ... and their cancer remission.
It's a battle they fought together and won together.
Doctor Arend says that this type of ovarian cancer, known as "germ cell," is almost never fatal, so both of the girls have a good prognosis. There are about 22-thousand cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year and about five percent of them will be a germ cell tumor.