Pair Finds Passion, Patients in Identical Pursuits
July 22, 2008
Pair finds passion, patients in identical pursuits
By Jeff Francis write the author
July 03, 2008
Katie Mimken and Mollie Oster have a wealth of non-verbal ways to communicate amongst themselves, including a gesture-free stare.
Twin sisters and registered nurses Mollie Oster (left) and Kate Mimken (right) assess Cheryl Maddox, an oncology patient at Exempla Lutheran Medical Center Friday, June 27.
"Our aunt once said to us, 'you know you talk with your eyes?'" Mollie said. "It was something we didn't even know we did. It was just intuition. We could look at each other and figure out how to answer if someone asked us to go somewhere."
Katie and Mollie's non-verbal communication skills are understandable, considering their bond. Not only do they work the same job (oncology nurses at Exempla Lutheran Medical Center), not only did they attend the same colleges (Colorado State University, University of Colorado Denver) and high school (Lakewood), they also shared a womb for nine months.
Katie and Mollie, identical twins, continue inspiring confusion and curiosity with their jobs in an oncology ward. For the two Jeffco natives, who just celebrated their 31st birthday, the urge to separate has never arisen. Katie said she once moved away from Mollie briefly to work at a correctional facility.
"It was really lonely," Katie recalled. "It was more difficult to be who I was without Mollie being there. We're the twins, the girls. We're Kate and Mollie. We're not just Kate or just Mollie."
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Yes, they've attempted pranks, such as the time in elementary school they tried to go to each other's classes, or the time in high school they tried to trick their boyfriends. Both times they were caught immediately.
Also, Katie and Mollie both claim one of them has hurt herself and the other, in a different place, has felt it, a disclosure they seem to regard as one familiar to anyone with knowledge of identical twins.
Perhaps most amazing is not merely attending the same schools or pursuing the same career path, but that Katie and Mollie both embrace a field in which emotional burnout can be common.
They said that while some may think working in a cancer ward would be depressing, it's actually the opposite.
"There are definitely depressing days, but on the whole it's very uplifting," Mollie said. "They (cancer patients) have an incredible outlook on life. They're grateful for every day they wake up."
"It's humbling," she said. "If you think you've had a bad day or bad night, you come to work and you think, 'I have nothing compared to what these people have to go through daily.'"
Although Katie and Mollie have been at Exempla Lutheran for five years, they said they are still mistaken for the same person, or sometimes for non-sisters.
"I can easily tell them apart because I've worked with them a number of years," said Kelley Kovar, clinical nurse manager. "I think it can confuse the patients and doctors, who may think that it's one woman who really works a lot of hours."
Despite the potential for mix-ups, both said having the other there is a useful support system for challenging work.
"Emotionally, we're able to rely on each other a lot," Katie said. "We're best friends, so it's like having your best friend there all the time."
Reporter Jeff Francis can be reached at 303-279-5541 ext. 238 or firstname.lastname@example.org