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Gina Fortado, Senior Administration Program Coordinator - SoPA Staff Spotlight

An information session taking place in a library

Tell us a little about your role at SoPA.

As a Senior Administrative Program Coordinator, my role is to assist students, fellow staff and faculty and provide administrative support to the Assistant Dean for Student Support Success, Vanessa Rodriguez. In addition, I coordinate student events such as Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society Ceremony and the New Student Orientations. However, I must say that my favorite role here at SoPA is helping our students achieve their goals.

What are 3 words you would use to describe SoPA?

  • Educational
  • Energetic
  • Invigorating

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a survivor of breast cancer, what was your response or how did you react when the doctor told you that you had cancer?

First let me say that because of my diligence in performing my self-examinations monthly since 1976, I found the lump myself on 3/31/2011 which was two weeks prior to my daughter’s wedding. I can’t explain it, but for some reason when I saw the extracted specimen I knew in my gut that that the results were going to be cancer, even though there is no family history of breast cancer. So on April 13th 2011, two days before the wedding, I received the call from the doctor. I’ll never forget his words, “Mrs. Fortado, it’s as we suspected. It is cancer.” Having that gut feeling helped my be prepared and ready for the next step. However, the news hit my husband harder. I held it together until the tears welled from my husband’s eyes and we wept together. After the tears settled, we decided to wait until after the wedding to make the announcement to my family.

What was the biggest challenge of your treatments and how did you overcome that challenge?

Because I stay active, I think my biggest challenge was my lack of energy on days three and four after the chemo. When I researched chemo effects, I learned that days three and four were the hardest. So I planned my chemo sessions on Thursdays. I was back at work on Friday feeling okay. Luckily I was home for the two hardest days, Saturday and Sunday, where my husband took excellent care of me. The radiation was a breeze in comparison!

What message do you have for others who have been diagnosed?

My message to those diagnosed with breast cancer is to do your research, learn what’s best for your body, relieve as much stress as possible from your life and keep a positive attitude. My message for all those who have not been diagnosed (both females and males), I want to say be diligent in performing monthly self-examinations on your breasts.

You’re singing the national anthem at the Tulane football game this Saturday. If you could sing a duet with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you sing?

Wow! That’s a hard one because I have so many favorites from classical to jazz to pop! But if I have to choose only one artist for a duet it would be Nat King Cole to sing “Unforgettable.”

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