Kahler Barber Shop owner gives cancer journey update

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(ABC 6 News) – For nearly 40 years, Duane Hawkins has been cutting hair. Following a cancer diagnosis in 2022, he’s hoping to get back to work as soon as possible.

For some, they say a man’s best friend is his dog. For this man, it’s his shears.

“I had a friend that was doing it and I just thought I’d give it a try. Here I am 38 years later,” said Hawkins, the owner and barber at the Kahler Barber Shop.

In 2013, he had his right kidney removed because of kidney cancer. Now, the cancer is back.

“I only have one kidney so that’s why if I lose this one, it’s a whole different ballgame. Dialysis and a much longer road,” said Hawkins.

A road that forced Hawkins to close shop in December.

“It wasn’t easy closing. I didn’t really think I’d miss it when I left. But I do,” said Hawkins.

And his customers miss him. Like Jerry Puffer from Montana who comes to Mayo Clinic multiple times a year.

“You have eight, nine appointments, procedures a day. Some are challenging. You know, it’s a rest, but just to go and talk to Duane, he has a calming influence,” said Puffer.

An influence made on Puffer nearly 20 years ago.

“It’s always something to look forward to. It just makes a person feel good,” said Puffer.

The community, returning the favor with thousands of dollars raised.

“I’ve had to pay the full rent on this place still,” said Hawkins. “That’s the only way I could keep it. So it’s helped immensely.”

Keeping the shop ready so it’s ready when he is.

“I’m just going to try and get back here. That’s my hope,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins finished his last round of chemo and will have surgery at the end of July.

If you’d like to follow his journey on CaringBridge, you can click here.

To donate to Hawkins, you can click here. As of Thursday morning, nearly $11,000 has been raised.