Most of us would do absolutely anything for our sisters. Steal their clothes, text them funny pictures at 1 AM, take screenshots of them with a double chin … but sisters Allison Dinkelacker and Dawn Policastro share the ultimate bond:
“In 2009, at the age of 32, Allison was 30 weeks into her pregnancy with her first son when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. It was so aggressive that she had to start chemotherapy immediately. The day after her first treatment, she went for a sonogram and the baby wasn’t moving. At 31 weeks and on her 33rd birthday (which she shares with her twin sister, Dawn), Allison had an emergency C-section and delivered a healthy little boy. It was the best birthday present they could have ever asked for.
“Allison went on to have 6 months of chemotherapy, 35 rounds of radiation, and numerous surgeries. Allison and her husband always wanted to complete their family with one more child and give their son the sibling he longed for. However, since the cancer was hormone positive, she could not carry another baby herself. Dawn generously offered to be their gestational carrier. Her selfless act of love and devotion has finally made their dreams come true!”
Allison Maffettone, who served as the sisters’ photographer, explained to me that she actually went to middle school with Dawn and her twin, but was so inspired by their story that she contacted the sisters to share their happy news.
“I knew about Allison’s battle with breast cancer,” Allison told me. “I recently heard about their pregnancy (and that they were due very soon) and I contacted them right away! I thought it was such an amazing and inspirational story that should be shared, so I asked if they would be willing to let me photograph them and share their story.”
Allison told me that the sisters were “wonderful” to work with and that the joy and love they have for each other, that’s so apparent to all of us through their pictures, was reflected in their real-life relationship as well.
“It is obvious that they share a special bond and how much they love one another,” says Allison. “They have always been best friends and inseparable. I know that Dawn has been so supportive throughout Allison’s battle, especially since she was going through her treatments with a newborn at home!”
Dawn, who has two sons of her own, actually kept the gender of Allison’s baby a surprise throughout the entire pregnancy. And Allison was thrilled to welcome another boy, Hudson William, into their family on August 5, joining his big brother Dylan in their new family of four.
After Dawn gave birth to her son, Allison posted a heartwarming note to her twin on the beautiful gift she has given their family:
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, I knew that me being told I had cancer was as devastating to Dawn as it was to me. After all we have always seen it as we are one soul in two different bodies. Dawn accompanied me to one of my doctors appointments and as we sat in my oncologists office and he said to me, ‘If you survive this, you will never be able to carry another child.’ Well, before he even finished his sentence Dawn jumped in and said, ‘It doesn’t matter because I am going to carry their child.’
“You kept that promise through all the devastating highs and lows, but throughout it all, you have been constant in your optimism, support, and loving care for us. When most people would have given up during the struggles we endured, you just pushed through it all. Time and time again when we thought we should quit, you never gave up. You don’t believe in the words, ‘I can’t.’ You only see ‘I can,’ and so many times YOU DID!
“I have said this before, but I have to say it again. Dawn, you amaze me! You are my hero, and I have never been more proud of you. You deserve a medal of courage, of compassion and of selflessness.
“How can we begin to thank you for the tremendous generosity and sacrifice you have so willingly bestowed these last few months? You have given us not just the fulfillment of a wish we’ve had for the last six years, but a whole new life and a family of four we thought we’d never have.
“It’s obvious that many people in your life think you are terrific. But probably no one knows the full extent of your caring and generous nature quite like we do.
“Dawn, we thank you for everything from the bottom of our hearts. We are and always will be eternally grateful!! What we are most grateful for is the gift you have given to Dylan, the gift of being a big brother, a dream that we all had and that you made come true!!!”