PORTLAND — Growing a mustache to raise awareness of cancer is an oddball thing to do, but Dr. Lou Jacobs is hoping the idea is quirky enough to catch on.
The Farmington-born chiropractor and acupuncturist with a busy practice in Portland sports a neatly waxed, handlebar mustache that he started growing when his mother, Patty, was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer last year.
A runner and locally known volunteer in Farmington, she died in May from complications with the aggressive disease. Now his father, Bert, a psychology professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, has contracted leukemia and is scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant later this month.
“At first, I grew it as a joke and mom thought it was funny,” Jacobs recalled last week. “She kidded around and said she would have preferred I had been a clown rather than a chiropractor.”
He had contemplated organizing the mustache-growing fundraiser when his mother was still alive, but it wasn’t the right time. Now, with his father ill, Jacobs sees it as a way to help others and support two good organizations that focus on cancer patients and their families.
“Dr. Lou,“ as he is known to his patients, has set a goal of raising $5,000 between Aug. 25 – the day of his father’s bone marrow transplant surgery – and Jan. 1, 2011. Donations will be split between The Cancer Community Center of South Portland, where Jacobs has been a volunteer and is on the board of directors, and the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation, which provided the Jacobs’ family with support.
For this project, Jacobs has partnered with Dr. Roger Inhorn, medical director of oncology and hematology at Mercy Hospital. Along with fundraising, Inhorn and Jacobs are planning to secure a monthly spot for the rest of the year on a local news channel to discuss the latest topics related to cancer detection, prevention and treatment.
To follow Jacob’s “My ‘Stache Fights Cancer” campaign, go to his blog at mystachefightscancer.blogspot.com, or the mystachefightscancer.com website. He also is tracking the project on his Facebook site.
Men who want to grow their own version of face fuzz will be able to create their own page on the new site, download photos of their progress, and make a direct pitch for donations.
As an added incentive, if $5,000 is raised, Jacobs is offering to shave off his own handlebars. If $10,000 is pledged, he will up the ante and sacrifice his prized goatee.
“But I really don’t want to do that,” he said.
Jacobs is asking donors to decide by casting a ballot when they make their pledge, either on their check or on the Web site. He said his wife, Ana, would like to see the waxed mustache gone, but his patients are split on the facial hair artistry.
“My thinking behind all this is that people shouldn’t always have to run a race, ride a bike or do a walk to raise money for a good cause,” Jacobs said. “I understand those are all healthy things, but not everyone can or wants to do it.”
“I thought, why not give people a way to get involved that was fun and kind of silly?,” he said.
Last week, Jacobs learned he had just landed a national sponsor, Oregon Wild Hair Moustache Wax based in Oregon.
“This is a proud day in the world of fund raising with mustaches,” Jacobs wrote on his blog.
The company is owned by Susan and Mark Coyl, whose website is www.oregonwildhair.com.
“We feel his cause is noble and important. We lost a sister-in-law two years ago to cancer that she fought for 10 years and we miss her very much,” they wrote in an e-mail.
Their product is made in small, handmade batches out of beeswax, petroleum jelly, lanolin, and natural musk oil and “does not spoil the taste of tea or coffee,” according to the website.
Jacobs attended the University of Maine at Farmington and Beijing Polytechnic University in Beijing, China. He received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Cleveland Chiropractic College in Kansas City, Mo. He returned to Maine in 2003 and opened Jacobs Chiropractic Acupuncture Center that same year.
Donations can be sent to The Cancer Community Center, 778 Main St., South Portland, ME 04106. For information, e-mail Jacobs at email@example.com or search for Dr. Lou Jacobs on Facebook.
Betty Jespersen is a freelance journalist in Farmington. This story is from Sun Media Wire.
Web links in this story were corrected on Aug. 19, 2010.
Dr. Lou Jacobs in his Portland office. He hopes his “My ‘Stache Fights Cancer Campaign” will catch on and raise $5,000 by Jan. 1, 2011, for the Cancer Community Center of South Portland and the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation.