Rare disease slowly turning sisters into stone
ZOE Buxton and her identical twin sister Lucy Fretwell suffer from a condition that affects only one in two million people.
It's an illness that will essentially turn them to stone.
Known as Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) - the condition causes muscle tissue, ligaments and tendons to be replaced by bone.
The rare medical condition impacts just 800 people around the world, with Lucy and Zoe just one of three sets of twins with the condition.
The twin women, who live in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, were born with the condition - but doctors failed to pick up the symptoms when they were babies.
According to The Sun, both girls were born with small bony lumps on their toes, a common sign of FOP - but doctors did not detect it at the time.
Officially diagnosed when they turned eight, the women said they've felt the side effects of the condition from a young age which can include painful swelling to an injured muscle before bones form over it.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the condition can often cause extra bone growth around the ribcage, which can cause difficulty breathing.
"When I was five, I fell off the sofa and broke my elbow," Ms Buxton said.
"We thought it was a normal injury until the cast came off and I couldn't straighten my arm - it was agony if I tried.
"While we didn't know it then, the bone that had formed over the joint was a result of FOP."
Ms Fretwell said that having a twin sister to go through the condition with made their situation easier.
At 11, she tripped over and hurt her neck. The accident resulted in bone growth which in turn, stopped her from raising her hands above her head.
"It is difficult to stay positive, but it helps to have someone else going through the same thing as you," she said.
"We support each other through the bad days and have also joined an awareness group to meet other people with FOP."
After breaking her leg in the same year as her sister's neck injury, Zoe was left to use a wheelchair which she "hated".
"It resulted in a lot of arguments with my parents," she said.
"But luckily, everyone was always very supportive and we never had any nasty comments at school."
Both in relationships, the pair both hope to one day have children, despite knowing their condition will only worsen with age.
" I would love to start a family, but there is a 50/50 chance that I'd pass on FOP to my child," Zoe said.
"He [Zoe's husband] would rather me be alive and healthy than have an ill wife and child."
"I'd love kids one day, but it's not an option at the moment," Lucy added.
"We'd definitely consider adoption after we get married."
"Zoe and I will always have each other, and we'll never let our condition hold us back."