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"We've always shared everything, so why not this?" says Cynthia Daniel, who donated an egg to her twin sister Brittany
January 05, 2022 09: 00 AM
Growing up as identical twins, Brittany and Cynthia Daniel have always been attached at the hip.
"We are so intertwined," says Brittany, 45, who rose to fame alongside Cynthia on their hit 90s TV series, Sweet Valley High. "Everything that's hers is mine and everything that's mine is hers."
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And so, after Brittany underwent a harrowing battle with stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and learned she might never be able to have children on her own, Cynthia didn't hesitate to donate her own eggs to her sister. Finally, on Oct. 24, 2021, Brittany and her husband Adam Touni welcomed their daughter Hope.
"I saw it as such a simple gift I could give to her," says Cynthia. "I know Brittany would do it in a split second for me. And we've always shared everything, so why not this?"
After the four-season run of Sweet Valley High, the sisters' paths somewhat diverged. Brittany continued acting with notable appearances in movies like White Chicks and on the TV series The Game, while Cynthia started a family with her husband, Yellowstone actor Cole Hauser. Together they share Ryland, 17, Colt, 13, and Steely, 8.
"I always thought I'd be the first to get married and start a family," says Brittany. "But I was serious about my career, and I was having a good time."
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Cynthia Daniel and Brittany Daniel
Credit: Stephanie Rausser
All that changed when Brittany was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, after which she endured a grueling six months of chemotherapy with Cynthia by her side. "There were definitely moments where I thought, 'Am I going to lose my sister?' " recalls Cynthia. "She was so strong, but it was so hard to watch."
Following her arduous recovery, Brittany's next steps came into clear focus. "I remember thinking that I had a new lease on life," she says. "I was ready to find a partner and have a child."
But during a meeting with a fertility specialist, Brittany was told that likely due to the intense chemo, she had a diminished egg reserve and getting pregnant on her own would likely be impossible. She broached the idea of egg donation to Cynthia and her twin, after discussing it with Hauser, "didn't hesitate," she recalls. "Words cannot express how grateful I am to her."
Brittany met broker associate Touni six months later and they wed in 2017. But unfortunately, three in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts using Cynthia's eggs were unsuccessful, and Brittany was devastated. "I thought I might have to wrap my head around not being a mom in this lifetime," she recalls. "I fought so hard to get there, and I was so scared it wasn't going to happen."
Cynthia Daniel, Brittany Daniel, Adam & Hope
Credit: Stephanie Rausser
Instead, the couple turned to surrogacy, again using Cynthia's egg, and both parents were in the room when baby Hope was born.
"I just let out this primal cry," recalls Brittany of meeting her daughter. "The entire room was bawling because they just all knew what we had been through."
And finally, in December (following negative Covid results and self-quarantine), Cynthia met her niece.
"I wasn't sure how I was going to feel at first, what emotions would come up," she says. "But I just felt like the aunt. And that is really special."
In the future, as the sisters make plans for the cousins to meet, Brittany is also considering expanding the family using another embryo created with Cynthia's egg.
For now, new motherhood is "beautiful," Brittany says. "It's better than I ever thought it could be. My sister made my dreams come true."
For more from Brittany and Cynthia Daniel, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
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