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Story of Survival

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When women hear their breast cancer has spread many believe there's little hope, but now these patients are living longer, healthier and happier lives. 7's Diana Diaz is here with one woman's Story of Survival.

WSVN -- Teresita Fernandez is a busy lady who enjoys nothing more than spending time with her family.

Teresita Fernandez: "I have three children. I have two daughters and a son, and I have eight grandchildren."

When she first noticed a lump under her breast she ignored it, but when it kept getting bigger she went to see the doctor. It was breast cancer.

Teresita Fernandez: "You know you hear about this happening to other women but me? Why me?"

She had chemo for six months then surgery. All the time, planning her daughter's wedding.

Teresita Fernandez: "We planned the wedding actually at the breast cancer center."

Then, more shocking news. Her cancer had progressed to stage four, metastasizing to her bones.

Dr. Carmen Calfa: "We do see stage four in patients that do present with late diagnosis."

Dr. Carmen calfa says stage four patients used to think there was little hope.

Dr. Carmen Calfa: "They come with a lot of fear and anxiety."

But thanks to new treatments, these women are living longer, healthier lives. Doctors now treat breast cancer as a chronic condition.

Dr. Carmen Calfa: "It's like patients living with blood pressure that is elevated and need chronic medication."

For Teresita, it's working she has been taking medication to manage the bone cancer for the past seven years.

Dr. Carmen Calfa: "It's four pills a day for two weeks, and then one week off and then I start again the cycle."

She says the side effects are minimal.

Teresita Fernandez: "I don't feel sick and I'm not in pain."

The Memorial Cancer Institute has recently started the Survivorship Program. To help women like Teresita transition into this new phase of their lives, living with cancer as a chronic condition.

Cynthia Frankel: "Learn how to find calmness. Learn how to find contentment. Learn how to master worry."

Teresita says the trick is not thinking about cancer every day.

Teresita Fernandez: "If you wake up in the morning thinking you have cancer, forget it, you sit in a chair and you die."

Instead, she's busy being the party planner for her family. She and her granddaughter Clowie are planning her next birthday.

Teresita Fernandez: "I'm living my life and I'm living it well."

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

www.memorialcancerinstitute.com

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