Twin sisters featured in a movie and a book about their lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis are in Sioux Falls this weekend.
The California women are providing hope to people dealing with the life-threatening disease.
The twins are now 40 years old. That's older than people with cystic fibrosis are expected to live.
Anabel Stenzel and Isabel Stenzel-Byrnes laugh a lot and love life. The twins say most people don't get excited about being over the hill, but they are.
"I'm proud to be 40. I'm proud to be this old," Isabel said.
"I was very sick starting from early life," Anabel said.
"When we were born, my parents were told that we were lucky if we reached the age of ten," Isabel said.
That's because the twins were born with cystic fibrosis. Friday in Sioux Falls they met health professionals at Sanford to raise awareness about the disease that almost took both of their lives. A movie about them, called the "The Power Of Two," will be shown Friday night in Sioux Falls.
"By 24, I was on oxygen all the time. I had a lung capacity of about 30 percent of normal, so life was always a struggle to breathe," Anabel said.
"In my late 20s, early 30s, I was on oxygen. I couldn't work anymore. I was very debilitated, short of breath, and coughing all the time," Isabel said.
But the two women survived thanks to lung transplants. Because of their experience, they say now it's their mission not only to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis, but also about being an organ donor.
"I was very close to the end of my life, so thankfully I was saved, but my whole family was saved too because they expected me to die," Isabel said.
Dr. Gene Hoyme, the President of Sanford Research, is also surprised at how well the twins are doing. He now lives in Sioux Falls but worked with the women 15 years ago.
"I think what it shows that with even severe genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis, there's tremendous hope," Hoyme said.
Hope is exactly what the twins convey through their movie and not just for people with cystic fibrosis.
"Everybody at some point in their lifetime will be touched by illness, and I hope this film conveys that even with illness, we were able to thrive, appreciate life, make the most of it and become advocates, so we could do something with our lives," Isabel said.
The twins' movie will be shown in the Belbas Theater of the Washington Pavilion at 7 p.m. Friday. Find more information on the KELOLAND.com Events Calendar.