Cancer survivor learns about true beauty

Steffanie Tate

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Tina Maskan was diagnosed with 3b Hodgekins and lymphoma at the age of 19. Photo Courtesy of Tina Maskan

Growing up, Tina Maskan was always the center of attention and the class clown. You could always count on her to turn any dull moment into a hysterically funny one.

In 2007, at the age of 19, Maskan realized that something wasn’t right with her body. She went to the doctor and found out some things couldn’t be cured with laughter.

“I had stage 3b Hodgkins and lymphoma and was taken into immediate care the next day to receive my ‘chemo cocktail,’” Maskan said.
Maskan, who will be transferring to the CSUN campus in the fall, said the symptoms she had once brushed off such as night sweats, various aches and pains and a large lump on her neck, were indeed serious.

The cancerous lump was quickly removed, leaving Maskan with a two-inch scar on her chest.
Maskan, 24, said she has always been the type of girl that was ready for new and exciting experiences. This restlessness caused her to often stray from projects or goals.

“When I found out that I was going to have to do six months of chemo, I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I didn’t know if I could do something for six whole months without quitting or just becoming unmotivated.”

Maskan added that chemotherapy was the only thing she truly set her mind to and completed besides a high school education.

Another daunting aspect of her treatment was the knowledge that she would lose her long gorgeous locks. Maskan said she feared it would mean losing one of her best assets.

As the treatment continued over six months, she remained in denial over the loss of her hair until it began falling out shortly after her third chemo treatment. Maskan said she would find clumps all over her pillowcase in the morning or all over her lap as she drove her car.

She finally asked one of her best friends to shave her head. Scared to let anyone see, Maskan said she laid low for a day or so. She eventually regained some confidence when her friends and family came to her home and gave her positive feedback on her new haircut.

After that, Maskan decided she would show off her hair rather than hide it.

“(I decided) I would rock it to the fullest,” Maskan said. “I called up a barber and made an appointment and got an edgy design on the side of my head.”

People stopped her everywhere she went and told her they were inspired by the confidence she had to shave her head. She said she never told them the haircut was a result of cancer, choosing instead to smile and simply thank them.

Maskan has since transferred from Pierce College and plans to attend CSUN in the fall as a psychology student. She is excited about starting a new chapter in her life as a healthy college student.

“I made the best of the situation and maintained a positive attitude to keep me in good spirits while I was battling cancer,” she said. “I know that my attitude was a huge factor in my successful recovery. I stayed in school to keep my mind on something other than cancer. I believe that the mind is a powerful thing and it creates your reality.”