The Miracle Twins

In our overhyped, marketing-saturated modern world, calling two sisters “The Miracle Twins” probably brings out more cynicism than wonder out of most people today. But, if you want to hear a story that will truly amaze you and gladden your heart, then you need to learn about Isabel and Anabel Stenzel.

Born in Los Angeles to Hatsuko Arima and Renner Stenzel, two immigrants who met at a Rotary International meeting and eventually married, the sisters were quickly diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) after birth. CF attacks the lungs, filling them with mucous. The doctors told the Stenzels that the girls would be lucky to live for 10 years.

Remarkably (miraculously?), both made it to their 40th birthdays. Bright and determined, Ana and Isa endured difficult therapies, long hospital stays, family squabbles, and sibling rivalry while just trying to grow up like other young girls. Their father, a physicist, figured the odds of identical twins who were half-Japanese (CF is very rare in Japan) being born with CF was 1.8 billion to one.

Yet, the sisters both made it through high school and got into Stanford. One of them even played taiko. The girls, who were close to their obachan, who would make long visits from Japan to help care for them, invoke cultural values like gaman to handle the challenges of their lives. They are acutely aware that their condition could spell their end at any time.

On Saturday, June 30, both sisters will be on hand for a screening of a documentary, The Power of Two, set for the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at the Japanese American National Museum beginning at 1 p.m. It’s free. To RSVP for this event, please call: 213.625.0414 ex. 2218.

I encourage anyone who wants to share a truly amazing story of two sisters overcoming the odds to come to this program. Anabel and Isabel have a lot to share. Check out the web site for the film at http://www.thepoweroftwomovie.com/

 

Chris Komai

Chris Komai is the Public Information Officer at the Japanese American National Museum.

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