Images of Hope

Gina Cortese

Gina Cortese was a 20-year-old college student majoring in education at Kent State University when she first felt numbness in her left toe. When initial blood work did not reveal anything serious, Gina brushed it off and went back to her life. However, the numbness rapidly began to progress, traveling up her leg and into her arm.

On January 25, 2012, Gina's leg gave out during class. She knew something was horribly wrong, but she was not prepared when an MRI revealed she had a mass in her brain.

That mass turned out to be a rare and aggressive brain tumor, called a giant cell glioblastoma. Gina immediately underwent brain surgery, but when she awoke, her left side was paralyzed. She had to relearn how to do many things, including walking, talking and writing.

After her surgery, Gina underwent intense radiation and chemotherapy and was eventually declared cancer-free. But eight months later, another MRI revealed that the cancer was back, and she had to go through it all over again. After several more rounds of treatment, she beat cancer – again.

Gina, who had to drop out of college during her treatment, resumed her studies and graduated magna cum laude in December 2015. She remains cancer-free today.

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