Soon after she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, Tori Geib made the transition from sous chef to passionate and eloquent patient advocate. She now devotes her time and energy to increasing awareness of, and funding for, metastatic breast cancer (MBC) research. &ldquo;Advocacy is more important than ever,&rdquo; says Geib, 34, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted funding for cancer research and has reduced the number of women getting screenings and enrolling in clinical trials. These are trends she&rsquo;s working to reverse as a nationally recognized, award-winning patient advocate. The diagnosis Geib was diagnosed with MBC in March, 2016, a few days after her 30th birthday. The cancer has since spread to her bones, lungs and liver and, most recently, to her brain. &ldquo;I never know when my MBC is going to progress,&rdquo; she says. When she was diagnosed with MBC, Geib was working two jobs &mdash; assistant sous chef at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center&nbsp;and food and beverage manager at a nearby ski resort. Her cancer had already spread to her spine and &ldquo;it was severely fractured.&rdquo; Geib could no longer work and had to go on disability. &ldquo;There was this thought in my head that I didn&rsquo;t realize people still died from breast cancer, and that as a young person, I had a risk of dying from it,&rdquo; Geib says. Breast cancer is most common in women 50 and older, according to the American Cancer Society. There are approximately 276,000 diagnoses every year and around 42,000 women will die from the disease. &ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t ready to retire,&rdquo; Geib says. &ldquo;I knew I had a voice, a platform I could utilize.&rdquo; Health first &ldquo;I needed some space to get comfortable with my diagnosis first, before advocacy,&rdquo; Geib says of the first several months following her diagnosis. During these difficult months, Geib learned something that has informed her advocacy: &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a six-month waiting period before you actually start to collect disability and a two-year gap in getting disability insurance for health care.&rdquo; Geib was forced to declare bankruptcy and move in with her parents; many cancer patients face similar financial hardships. Becoming an advocate &ldquo;I knew I needed some education &mdash; I don&rsquo;t believe in going into something blindly. You need to know the facts,&rdquo; Geib says. She connected with Kathy Bohley, a chaplain at The James. Bohley told Geib about Living Beyond Breast Cancer&rsquo;s Hear My Voice Metastatic Advocacy Program. &ldquo;I was able to get trained and connected to a lot of different organizations,&rdquo; Geib says. One of the first things she learned was the importance of MBC research. &ldquo;Over 75 percent of the women diagnosed the same day I was diagnosed are no longer here,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;When you look at the research being done, we need to focus more on MBC, on breast cancer that leaves the breast and is terminal.&rdquo; Geib engages in political outreach and speaks on behalf of several organizations, including the Stefanie Spielman Breast Cancer Scientific Patient Advisory Committee, Ohio Partners of Cancer Control, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, Komen Advocates in Science and the American Association of Cancer Research. She is one of the co-founders of the annual Ohio MBC Day of Action held at the Statehouse. Traveling around the country to speak at cancer conferences has helped Geib realize how fortunate she is to be treated at the OSUCCC &ndash; James&rsquo; Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center. &ldquo;No other hospital system has a clinic dedicated to advanced breast cancer patients,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;We should be a model for other health systems so that patients aren&rsquo;t left behind, especially in palliative care. We lead the way in palliative care for patients with metastatic breast cancer.\" Geib recently received the Eliza Adams Thriver of the Year Award from Komen Greater NY and was the first recipient of the Tori Geib Courage in Action Award from Komen Columbus. Her new community &ldquo;Mentally, advocacy has been great for me,&rdquo; Geib says. &ldquo;I needed something to do, to work &mdash; I&rsquo;ve always been a workaholic.&rdquo; Patient advocacy gives her a sense of purpose and a community of other women going through the ups and downs and emotional turmoil of an MBC diagnosis. &ldquo;Now, when something happens, when there&rsquo;s a progression [of my MBC] or I need some support, I&rsquo;m more apt to reach out to other advocates. They understand.&rdquo; The future There are no long-term guarantees for MBC patients. &ldquo;I have pain. I&rsquo;ll always have some pain, and I can live with it,&rdquo; Geib says, adding that it&rsquo;s important to &ldquo;communicate with my team at the Spielman Center and determine what&rsquo;s tolerable &mdash; finding a balance.&rdquo; Learn more about Tori's work on her website, Metastatic Millennial. Register for our 10/24 conference, Ask the Experts: Living Well With Advanced Breast Cancer, where our experts will provide updates on novel therapies and clinical trials for advanced breast cancer, breakout sessions by sub-type, a discussion about integrative practices, and the use of dietary and herbal supplements.