The family of Tiffany Rose Gardone, who died nearly two years ago from cancer at the age of 36, is hoping to ensure her legacy will be in helping others through a creative fundraising initiative for those battling the devastating disease.
Tiffany’s parents, the Rev. Tracey and Cheryl Gardone of Waynesburg, were with her and fought with her throughout her several different stages of cancer, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma and triple negative breast cancer that later metastasized into her brain. Tracey said he and his wife watched their daughter fight valiantly and serve as a true inspiration by never giving up hope.
“Tiffany never lost her love for life and her zeal to fight this fight with a positive, energetic, contagious bright outlook,” Tracey said of his daughter who passed away Dec. 11, 2019.
It was this inspiration that ultimately drove Tracey Gardone to come up with a unique way to honor his daugher.
Years ago, Tracey wrote lyrics to a song he titled “What Didjya Do with Muh Hat?”
The song was meant to be humorous, but Tracey Gardone said he couldn’t imagine the meaning his song would later take on after his daughter’s cancer diagnosis.
The song returned to the front of Tracey Gardone’s mind after he observed Tiffany wearing different hats following her chemotherapy treatments.
“As we all know and understand, many cancer patients, mainly women, wear some type of head covering after hair loss from treatments,” he said. “By the time Tiffany was battling the brain tumors, she opted to go bald (and) she really rocked that look, especially with big hoop earrings. Her Dad is bald, but she looked great.”
As Tiffany’s illness positioned her into more bed rest, Tracey said she kept certain items close by, such as the remote control, her purse and head coverings. This time, her head coverings were not for appearance, but for warmth.
“She invariably kept losing track of items and would ask me, ‘Where is my hat, what did you do with my hat?’” he said. “At first, this didn’t register with me, but before she passed, I put it together that she was consistently ‘losing’ her hat and asking for it, and I remembered how I had written that song years before.
“The humor wasn’t lost, or the irony,” he continued. “After she passed, it clicked that I should finish that song and dedicate it to her. ‘What didjya do with muh hat?’”
Following this idea, he contacted a musician friend, who put together an arrangement based on what was in Tracey’s head. He then commissioned several musicians recommended by the Vault recording studio in Pittsburgh.
After the song was recorded at the studio, the masters were sent to Flying Scooter Productions in Pittsburgh, which developed a video in conjunction with Tracey’s vision.
Following the completion of the song and video, Tracey partnered with American Cancer Society, which agreed to promote the video along its network.
Tracey Gardone also created an initiative in memory of Tiffany titled “The Hat Project,” which can be found at www.trgardone.com.
Visitors to the website can listen to the song and watch the tribute video, learn more about Tiffany’s history and battle against cancer, and also donate to a worthwhile cause – purchasing hats for distribution to cancer treatments centers and for cancer-related research.
Those wishing to donate may do so through the website and also by mail. Checks should be made out to The Scribegician Foundation, P.O. Box 550, Waynesburg, PA 15370, with “The Hat Project” written on the memo line.
“We hope everyone enjoys not just the music and video, but the underlying message: ‘Live the life you have,’” Tracey said.
As for his daughter, Tracey said although Tiffany is greatly missed, he takes comfort knowing that she is no longer suffering and is in a better place.
“Tiffany’s head covering now is a halo,” Gardone said. “I know she can’t lose that ‘hat.’”