Health Stories

Can You Believe We’re Twins!

Caroline and her twin Cassidy have a unique relationship
  • Caroline Carter, 26, was only two when she was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called McCune-Albright syndrome
  • By age four, she used a wheelchair
  • Her loving twin and best friend Cassidy has always been by her side

Here Caroline tells her story in her own words.

Running around the house with my twin sister Cassidy, then aged four, I suddenly heard a loud snap.

‘Ouch!’ I screamed.

My parents, William, then 48, and Terry, 43, rushed to my side.

‘You’ve broken your leg again, sweetie,’ Mum said, picking me up before we drove off to the hospital.

This wasn’t my first broken bone!

Mum gave birth to me and Cassidy in February 1997. We were perfect babies, born just one minute apart.

And before we could even crawl, we were already so special to each other.

‘They’re little besties,’ our older siblings, Allison, then 16, and John, 11, said to our parents.

Caroline Cassidy Carter Babies
Cassidy and Caroline as babies (Credit: Supplied.)

‘Breaking my arm at two years old, I had my very first cast.’

Cassidy and I looked like peas in a pod, but at about two years old, Mum noticed a pale brown patch on my back.

I also seemed to be developing small breasts by that point. And I’d already started my menstrual cycle.

Concerned, Mum and Dad took me to the doctor.

After running some tests, including for blood and bone density, docs confirmed a diagnosis.

‘Your daughter has McCune-Albright syndrome,’ they said.

The mark on my back, which is described as a café au lait spot, is a common indicator of the rare syndrome.

My twin sister was my other half and we looked so alike, but we weren’t identical.

The genetic condition meant my bones could break much more easily and it impacted my overall bone growth, meaning I’d be shorter. It also affected my hormone balance, meaning I’d go through puberty at a much younger age.

Breaking my arm at two years old, I had my very first cast.

And by age four, I used a wheelchair. Having shorter femurs – the bones in my thighs – made it much harder to walk.

Cassidy Caroline Carter growing up
The girls as kids (Credit: Supplied.)

‘Thanks to my lovely twin, I never felt lonely.’

With me zipping around the house on wheels, my siblings always tried to include me in any activities.

‘Let’s play basketball,’ Cassidy would say, pushing me outside.

Starting school was rough. Unable to take part in sports and other activities, I felt like I was an outcast.

‘You’re one in a million,’ Mum always said to me.

Although I knew I was different, I learned at an early age that being unique was a special gift.

And my protective twin sister always made sure others wouldn’t give me any trouble.

‘Take a picture. It’ll last longer!’ she said to any strangers staring at me.

I had to wear a full body cast for eight weeks when I was eight, after snapping my right femur and shattering my left tibia.

Unable to sit up or even roll over, I ate and drank lying down.

Towards the end of my recovery, it was Easter, and my family didn’t want me to miss out on the fun.

So they took me to school in a large red wagon, where I could safely lie down with a pillow, and I got to participate in my class Easter egg hunt in the schoolyard.

‘Here you go, Caroline!’ my friend Avery said, passing me choccy eggs while my other mate Connar pushed me around as we all giggled.

After surgeries for my broken bones, I needed time in bed to recover.

Thanks to my lovely twin, I never felt lonely.

‘Want to play on the Nintendos? Or watch The Sound of Music?’ Cassidy asked, before we fell asleep together.

By 11 I’d reached 129 centimetres tall, and that’s when I stopped growing.

Cassidy was already taller – and she just kept going.

‘Hello up there!’ I’d chuckle to her.

No matter what, I always tried to stay positive!

By the time I was 12, I’d really come out of my shell. I made lots of friends who helped me become more confident.

Cassidy Caroline Carter growing up
The girls growing up (Credit: Supplied.)

A real social butterfly who loved to be part of things, I even joined a cheerleading squad and swimming team.

In my wheelchair, I’d do the cheers with my pompoms as all the other girls cartwheeled around me.

And I swam after school.

I’d still often break bones though.

‘Hey, I broke my leg today. Can you please help me wrap it up?’ I’d tell Mum after school.

Having had so many breaks, I felt like I’d become immune to the pain, and we knew how to strap things up.

At 16, I got my driver’s licence – at the same time that Cassidy got hers.

Driving was fine, although I needed a cushion placed behind me to reach the pedals.

When I was 18, I broke my arm and needed surgery again.

Cassidy Caroline Carter twins
Cassidy and Caroline are the best of friends (Credit: Truly)

I haven’t broken a bone since then though. I’ve been a lot more careful.

But after more than 50 breaks, I feel like I can get through anything!

Today, I’m studying law, and Cassidy, who at 170cm is 41cm taller than me, studies medicine.

I feel like her aspiration to become a doctor came from taking care of me when we were kids.

At first glance, people don’t take us for twins. They usually think I’m Cassidy’s little sister.

But when they look at our faces, they can see we’re doubles!

Still best buddies with Connar and Avery, I realise a support network can lift anyone out of a slump.

I try to get up and out of my chair as often as I can, walking with a cane.

And my lovely boyfriend Tyler, 26, who I met through a friend, loves to see me embrace every part of myself.

‘You’re one of the most extroverted people I know,’ Cassidy often tells me.

I might have been born into the world as a twin, but I’m very proud to be different.

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