Pounding the pavement

Metastatic breast cancer survivor brings awareness to funding inequities

VictoriaGeib

VICTORIA “TORI” GEIB

Finding a strand of gray hair or a tiny wrinkle is not a cause for distress for Bellefontaine resident Victoria “Tori” Geib, but rather is a happy sign of aging to celebrate still being alive and having more days to spend with her family and friends. 

Two years out of college last year, she was enjoying her time working as a full-time chef in Columbus when she found a lump in her breast. By March 2016, the then 30-year-old found herself faced with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, after her doctors discovered she had breast cancer and it had metastasized to her bones, lung, liver and left kidney. 

Though her treatment course and side effects have been rocky during the past 18 months, Geib said her cancer has stabilized through her current regimen, which includes an oral chemotherapy drug called Ibrance and 14 other daily medications. 

While she had to quit the culinary job she loved, she has embarked on a new mission to advocate for more research and for others facing this formidable stage IV form of breast cancer that claims the lives of 113 people in the U.S. every day, or about 40,000 people each year. 

“There is no cure and no chance of remission for metastatic breast cancer; I’ll be in treatment for the rest of my life,” the 2004 Marion Harding High School graduate said. 

“I’ve had friends in their 20s and their 30s who have died. That’s why I’ve been pounding the pavement and advocating for more research into this disease.”

Life-changing days 

Geib said in early 2016, she was feeling well and was thrilled to be working as a chef at the James Cancer Research Hospital after receiving her baking and pastry science degree from Columbus State Community College. 

FUNDS FOR A CURE

Those who want to make contributions toward curative breast cancer research, city resident Victoria “Tori” Geib recommends the following organizations:

• METAvivor.org — A volunteer-led non-profit organization that exists to sustain hope for those living with stage IV metastatic breast cancer; 100 percent of every donation goes toward research grants for a cure, click the “donation” link at www.metavivor.org.

• Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research — Providing research funds for a cure through the organization housed at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center; online donations at cancer.osu.edu/giving-back/special-funds/stefanie-spielmanfund- for-breast-cancer-research.

“I absolutely loved my job at the James,” she said last week. “I helped with catering events and also made meals from scratch for the patients. A lot of other hospitals take note of the food service at the James; it is top-notch.”

On top of her full-time job, Geib said she worked a total of 60 hours per week because she also served as the beverage supervisor at Mad River Mountain and was former manager of The Loft at the ski resort. So naturally, she noticed that she felt tired most of the time, but attributed the fatigue to her busy work schedule. 

The former Columbus resident said she also was seeking treatment for back pain through a chiropractor during that time. She thought the pain was a result of the 40- to 50-pound boxes of food she lifted at her workplace, but she would later learn it was a result of the breast cancer that had invaded her body.

On an otherwise ordinary day, Geib said she felt like she was laying on top of her cell phone, but upon further examination, she discovered a lump in her breast. She had local testing done March 7, and a breast cancer diagnosis came just a week later. 

“At first, we thought it was going to be an early stage diagnosis, and that I’d have treatment for about a year, and then be able to move on with my life,” she said. “However, about two weeks later, I had a site tested on my back, and they came back with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis on March 23, 2016.”

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HOME PAGE SLIDE SHOW PHOTO: City resident Victoria “Tori” Geib, pictured at the far right, attended the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Conference in Memphis, Tenn., earlier this month, and is pictured with friends and fellow advocates from around the country, from the left, Jessica Leip, Andy Sealy, Susan Rahn and April Grove Doyle.