The message of the mustache is simple - FUCK CANCER.
It is said that approximately 39.4% of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lives, making it one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The worst part about cancer is that it shows up unannounced and creates new challenges that no one can prepare for.
Michael Cobb was a man who believed anything was possible - life is what you make of it. He lived with a desire to leave the world a better place than he found it. He challenged himself, his family and his colleagues to think big. He led by example with passion, enthusiasm, curiosity, commitment and love. When he was 14 years old he had his first experience downhill skiing and his life was changed forever. This new found passion and freedom become a leading force in both his personal and professional life. It was a common thread that wove many of his life's experiences together.
In July of 2013, Michael was diagnosed with brain cancer and entered a new phase of his life. It was the greatest challenge he had ever faced and one without a clear solution. He unlocked a deeper level of his spirituality, found new ways to give back to his community and reinforced the importance of being a family man.
I vividly remember the day I learned that my Dad had been diagnosed - the news came as a surprise and was one of the most emotionally draining days I've ever experienced. With that news came thoughts of the worst case scenario and questions about how this could happen and why him. I can remember feeling a pit in my stomach swell before the tears erupted. The end of his story on this earth felt inevitable and taught me to live with a deeper appreciation for the present. Take a deep breath when you step outside, show love to the people you care about (and even those you don't), find value in both the positive and negative moments of everyday life.
As he always did, Michael exceeded the averages and lived much longer than expected, but his state deteriorated quickly in the final weeks of his life. I remember sitting with my dad as he lay comfortably on his deathbed; all of my family including him understood that the end was near. I was getting ready to head back home to Oregon and knew this would likely be the last moment I would get to spend with him. Although this moment hangs heavy on my heart when I think about it, I can remember his final words to me, “I love you, Stirling. Just go kill it.”
When I think back on the life my Dad lived I feel both proud and lucky. As someone who was always pushing forward, I feel pain, sorrow and sadness that his life was cut short by something that none of us could ever have expected. With his drive, passion and curiosity, there was so much more that he could have accomplished. But, as he used to tell us, “Life isn’t fair,” and his spirit continues to motivate me on my journey through life.
This December will mark 6 years since my Dad passed away after his battle with brain cancer. My Mom continues to live in symptom free remission after her own battle with cancer. Outside of my own family, there are several people I love who endure the hardships of cancer in their own way and while there are amazing stories of hope and perseverance the reality of the situation sucks. Some share stories of optimism and overcoming one of life's greatest challenges, while others share stories of pain and tragic endings. Cancer is not something I wish on anyone, and so Movember marks a month where I can try to make a small difference for a larger problem. The mustache is a reminder that Michael showed me a life that I am grateful to live and a conversation starter for cancer awareness.
Last year I set out to raise $2,000 to support the American Cancer Society and was grateful to raise $2,357 in support. This year I set a fundraising goal of $2,500 and plan to donate it to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center. MSK has devoted more than 135 years to exceptional patient care, innovative research, and outstanding educational programs.
No matter the size of your donation, whether it’s $5 or more, I will be grateful for your contribution. Together, we can help make a small difference for the larger problem of cancer research, treatment, and education.
Thanks in advance for any support you are willing to provide.
Much love, and FUCK CANCER.