Hibbing stylist Tiffany Skalsky faces fight of her life, again

After beating cancer and after losing both parents, another battle

HTF Contributor Tiffany Skalsky with her daughters Aysia, 15, and Abryana, 3. The Hibbing resident, who owns and operates Hair Tank by Tiffany, was recently diagnosed with cancer for the second time in three years after undergoing a double mastectomy due to Stage 3 breast cancer in 2016. Submitted photo. EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer of this piece has been a friend of mine since we met over 15 years ago. Through unspeakable tragedy, she has shown extraordinary courage. I asked Tiffany to share her story for this edition, knowing that she had suffered a serious recurrence of cancer she thought she had beaten not that long ago. Though I know she is hurting, Tiffany was gracious enough to share her story. A benefit will be held for her on March 2 at Hibbing Park Hotel. Those who would like to know more about her story and/or would like to donate to help her out with medical and travel expenses, search for Tiffany Skalsky on GoFundMe.com to find her page set up by her friends “Team Tiff.” It is greatly appreciated. – B. Miller

HIBBING – In July of 2014, I was blessed with the news of my pregnancy with my youngest daughter Abryana. My oldest daughter, Aysia, was 12 years old at the time.

That same November, I lost my dad at the age of 54 to lung cancer while I was eight months pregnant.

I had Abryana in February and noticed she wouldn’t breastfeed off my right breast. I found an odd indentation on that same side a few months later. I went in and got it checked out. On Sept. 18, 2015, at age 32 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. I had breast cancer.

[EDITOR: According to the National Breast Cancer Association, Stage 3 cancer means the breast cancer has extended to beyond the immediate region of the tumor and may have invaded nearby lymph nodes and muscles, but has not spread to distant organs. Although this stage is considered to be advanced, there are a growing number of effective treatment options.]

I then completed 16 rounds of chemotherapy treatments, a double mastectomy with immediate construction, 17 lymph nodes removed, 25 radiation treatments and surgery for implants. To make matters worse my mom passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 19, 2015. This was one week after my first chemotherapy treatment at the Mayo Clinic. My life had fallen into shambles. But I had to keep pushing on.

After almost two years I was cleared and was, we thought, cancer-free. But my life has taken yet another turn in a new direction.

I started doing my training for my second trek through an organization called Project Athena.

[EDITOR: According to their mission statement, “The Project Athena Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation dedicated to helping survivors of medical or other traumatic setbacks achieve their adventurous dreams. At Project Athena, we provide travel expenses, coaching, equipment, and most importantly, the encouragement and inspiration needed to help these strong, amazing women and men make that life-affirming transition from Survivor to Athlete.”]

In August I had gotten out in the kayak a few days. Afterwards, I felt I had overdone a bit due to not using my upper body muscles in that way in awhile. I tried over the next couple months to slowly figure out why my back had been constantly achy.The pain had moved in my lower back and then seemed to radiate somewhere different every day. Knowing the trek was near, I decided to go in and start physical therapy.

I was at work a week later. I work as a cosmetologist in my own salon, so I’m on my feet all day with alot of physical duties. I started to feel really nauseated, and I knew something was off. I canceled my day and drove to the emergency room to get checked out.

I had experienced something I thought had been similar a few years earlier that ended up being a kidney stone, so I assumed that was going to be the culprit.

After labs, ultrasound and a scan, things became real. I met with my primary care doctor directly after to become informed that he had reviewed my scans and the cancer had metastasized into my liver, spine and pelvis bones.

Now again, at 35, I hear those words. My heart fell to the pit of my stomach. How could this be? Don’t I have a full life to live?! I have two beautiful daughters that need their mom! Is this really happening?

The hardest part was telling all my family and friends. How was I going to do that? And most of all my girls. Aysia is now 15 and Abryana is just three.

I decided again that this will not take me over, and I will fight again! I am not letting this get the best of me!

I have had many side effects, fevers and body aches through my treatment. I just finished my ninth one. We are expecting to go into March and do another PET scan to see how things are going.

My first follow-up scan in December showed amazing results and hope. We are moving in the right direction.

I am still working in the salon as much as my body allows. I plan to take things day-byday and enjoy what life has to offer.

Tiffany Skalsky is the owner/operator of Hair Tank by Tiffany in Hibbing, MN, where she resides with her daughters Aysia and Abryana.

FIGHTING FOR TIF!

A fundraiser benefitting Tiffany Skalsky

DATE: Saturday,
March 2
TIME: 4 – 8 p.m.
WHERE: Hibbing Park
Hotel
COST: $10

Food by Grandma’s in the Park and Valentini’s Supper Club Plus live music and raffles

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