Stage IV cancer patients can live rewarding lives too with support and medication

Teena Cole wants to inspire other patients

Stories of breast cancer often focus on the women who have been diagnosed in the early stages of the disease and who are almost certain to survive and live long lives.

 

Unfortunately, there are other women who don't get as much attention. Those who are diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, which is cancer in its most advanced form.

What many people don't realize is that even with stage IV cancer, it is possible to live a rewarding life for years to come.

"I don't have the poor me attitude at all," says Teena Cole.

In 2008 Teena was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in 2010 she discovered that it had spread and advanced to stage IV.

Don't look for her in a hospital bed, though. You're much more likely to find her swimming in the ocean.

"All my life I've enjoyed snorkeling, but in 2010 I kind of rediscovered it," says Cole.

Teena loves the feeling of freedom she gets underwater.

"As a child I used to dream that I could fly and when I snorkel, when you dive, it feels like you're weightless and you can fly," she says.

It was those feelings that inspired Teena to do something for other cancer patients.

"I've taken up underwater photography and created a website that I hope to share and inspire other people with stage IV cancer," says Cole.

While stage IV cancer cannot be cured, it is not typically immediately life-threatening. With medication and support, it is possible for patients to live rewarding lives.

"Although metastatic breast cancer is usually not curable, it can become a chronic condition, meaning it can still be treated for many years," states Dr. Reshma Mahtani, an oncologist for UM Sylvester Cancer Center in Deerfield Beach.

"People presumed I would look a certain way," says Cole. "When I approached people and said I was stage IV they kind of stepped back and said, 'Oh, you don't look like you have cancer.' My doctor had a nice analogy. He said it's just like having diabetes. It's not curable, but it's treatable. It makes me feel that I can continue to enjoy all the things that I enjoy doing."

For more information, contact the Susan G. Komen "For the Cure" helpline at 561-514-3020.

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