Actress Brittany Daniel Recalls Long Journey to Motherhood Using Twin Sister Cynthia's Donor Egg: 'So Happy'

The Sweet Valley High star talks to the PEOPLE Every Day podcast about her fertility struggles after battling stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and how her identical twin sister Cynthia came to her aid

Actress Brittany Daniel was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011 at the age of 35. She underwent chemotherapy and has been cancer-free ever since, but shortly after her battle, she learned from her fertility doctor that becoming a mother would be a near-impossible battle.

"I went to see my OB because I was not having my menstrual cycle, and he said, 'I'm pretty certain you're in pre-menopause.' That's it," she explains in a new episode of the PEOPLE Every Day podcast. "While I was going through chemo, I was like, 'Okay, I'm certain now that I want to have a family and I want to get married and have a baby.' And then to get that news was pretty devastating."

Brittany, 45, rose to fame alongside her identical twin sister Cynthia in the '90s after appearing in a series of Doublemint gum commercials and starring in the hit teen TV series, Sweet Valley High. While Brittany continued acting, her sister moved onto a successful photography career, and had three children of her own.

In 2013, Brittany went to be by the side of her sister as she was giving birth to her third child, just at the time that she got more bad news about her own fertility. "Literally minutes before I walked into my sister's delivery... I get the news that, yes, I am a pre-menopause and most likely I won't be able to have children," she recalls. "I'm just not one to just take news like that lying down."

Brittany Daniel and Cynthia Daniel
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Brittany worked with an in vitro fertilization process doctor to go through two egg retrieval cycles, but she was told chemo had caused too much damage to her ovaries and egg reserve, and things were looking bleak. That is, until she informed them about her identical twin sister.

"He's like, 'What are we doing here? You can't get any closer. You guys have the exact same DNA. Why don't we ask your sister to see if she'd be open to sharing her eggs with you?'," she says. "I reached out to Cynthia. She knew about the process I was going through and trying to retrieve eggs, and I brought it up to her and asked her if she would be open to sharing her eggs with me."

Initially, Cynthia wasn't sure if would even be possible as the two were in their late thirties, but she was willing do whatever it took to help make her sister's dream come true.

"It just kind of stopped me in my tracks, because I was like, this is why my sister and I were brought together," Cynthia says. "Not only just to support each other and love on each other... I know she would've done the same thing for me."

A doctor confirmed that, while Brittany's egg reserve was depleted, Cynthia's was as healthy as "a 25-year-old's," news that left Brittany with mixed feelings.

"This is amazing news, because at the time we were 39, and he said she had an amazing chance of retrieving tons of eggs," Brittany recalls. "But then, at the same time, I have to be totally honest, I had this pain in my heart, because I was like, I have to fully let this go for myself. But, of course, I found my way to pure joy and just being super grateful."

Cynthia Daniel and Brittany Daniel
Stephanie Rausser

At the time that Brittany and Cynthia were looking into freezing Cynthia's eggs, Brittany was single, but six months later, she met her future husband, broker associate Adam Touni, and she immediately told him about her plans.

"I was like, 'Oh yeah, I'm forty. I want a family. And if we were to start a family, we'd be using my twin sister's eggs'," she thinks back. "I dropped all this knowledge on him within the first couple hours of meeting him, and he was like, 'Okay'." The pair married in 2017 and then started the IVF process of doing the embryo transfer with Cynthia's egg.

Brittany Daniel and Adam Touni
Brittany Daniel and Adam Touni

Unfortunately, after three failed attempts, Brittany began to lose hope for the family she envisioned. Her fertility doctor suggested using a surrogate, again using Cynthia's donated egg, and that proved successful. Finally, on Oct. 24, 2021, the pair welcomed their daughter Hope.

"We were all in the delivery room together and got to witness this powerhouse of a woman," Brittany says of her surrogate. "We were in total awe of her."

Brittany's emotional reaction to the situation surprised even her. "I just started scream-crying in the delivery room," she says. "Everybody started crying: all the nurses, the doctors, because they knew what I had been through and just the pure joy that she was in our arms."

Now Brittany is just enjoying life as a mother and reveals that she cannot get enough of her baby girl.

"My friends reach out and are like, 'Are you dying? Are you sleep deprived?' Yeah, I'm tired, but I'm so energized too," she says. "I'm just so happy. When you've worked this hard, I mean, it's almost 10 years in the making. It's just been amazing."

Check out more episodes of PEOPLE Every Day, airing on iHeartMedia, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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