October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which prompted dozens of advocates and survivors of cancer to come to the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday.
Advocates and survivors of cancers said they wanted to hear from lawmakers how things are progressing with several pieces of legislation aimed at making life better for all Ohioans dealing with the deadly disease.
It is estimated that more than 41,000 people will die of breast cancer this year and that metastatic breast cancer will cause the vast majority of those deaths.
Too young for preventative screenings, Tori Geib was 30 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
“I thought I was lying on my cell phone and reached over and found a lump,” said Geib, as she recounted how she learned of her cancer.
At first, she thought everything would work out.
“I thought this was a year out of my life of treatment and then I’m done and I go back to work and life moves on,” Geib said.
But then her doctor clarified for her what kind of cancer she had.
“No, metastatic means you’re terminal,” said Geib, recounting the conversation.
Her life irrevocably changed and likely to be drastically shortened, Geib is still searching for a way to leave her mark on the world.
Two years into her five-year life expectancy, her metastatic breast cancer has spread to her heart and bones. There is no cure and she will eventually die.
“I’m scared. I keep a good face, but it’s very scary,” Geib said.
That is why it is so important for her to see lawmakers make headway on a bill that is pushing better awareness for palliative care.
“Palliative care is making sure that you’re living your best life today,” Geib said. “It’s making sure that again, you don’t need to be in that walker or that wheelchair if you don’t need to. Or if you’re dealing with depression that those type of issues are being dealt with.”
Spearheading the charge on the bill is State Representative Sarah LaTourette, who lost her father to pancreatic cancer two years ago.
“Access to early palliative care from the instant he was diagnosed made all of the difference for him and my entire family,” LaTourette said.
Her bill has passed out of the House and is currently sitting in a Senate committee waiting to be worked on when lawmakers get back after the November General Election.
Wednesday’s event at that Statehouse is one of many attempts advocates will make in hopes of convincing lawmakers to support efforts to increase access for clinical trials and for greater support with insurance needs, as well as the palliative care bill.