Friend grows ‘Stache for Cash for childhood buddy
October 18, 2011
By Tom Corrigan
Extreme highs and extreme lows.
Issaquah native Dan Stromberg has been through both. So, no doubt, has his wife of two years, Natalie Stromberg. And, quite probably, his best friend, David French.
For the couple especially, one big high arrived in February of this year when Natalie gave birth to the couple’s first child, Evangeline.
“She’s been a comfort to the both of us,” Natalie said.
Sadly, the Strombergs’ low point arrived about a month after Evangeline. At 29, Dan was diagnosed with late stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“He’s my best friend, we’re basically like brothers,” said French, who added he felt he had to do something to help his buddy.
The answer came when he was surfing the Internet and noticed November is, depending on which website you visit, Mustache Month or Don’t Shave Your Mustache Month.
In any case, French got the idea to grow a mustache — his first — throughout this month and next and use it as a fundraising gimmick. ’Stache for Cash was born.
Through a website he set up, visitors can monitor French’s progress with his mustache, Dan’s progress with cancer and make monetary donations of any size to help Dan and his family.
“Having a baby and cancer at the same time isn’t cheap,” French said.
According to French, his growing his first mustache to help Dan is a bit ironic. Both said Dan used to have a pretty thick, handlebar mustache of his own. French also noted he is now engaged and was scheduled to have some engagement photos done next month. That photo session has been put on hold.
Living in Provo, Utah, the Strombergs were recently in Issaquah for the Salmon Days Festival and to visit with friends and family. For an interview, French, the couple and their daughter sat on a couch in Dan’s parents’ Issaquah home, the home in which he grew up. French pointed across the street to where he grew up.
French and Dan figure they have known each other since they were about 10. They went to school together locally, and then headed off to Brigham Young University where they were college roommates. After college, French moved back to Issaquah.
On the Web
Learn more about David French’s ‘Stache for Cash fundraiser at www.mustachefordan.blogspot.com.
Natalie said that at one point Dan had literally hundreds of tumors spread throughout his body. He has been through one three-month round of chemotherapy and faces another when he returns home. Dan said that first round of chemo seemed to be effective and his doctors are optimistic at this point. He still must wear a mask outdoors and also has at least two large tumors remaining.
“I still have a potato next to my heart,” Dan said, laughing, not for the first or last time, as he talked about his illness.
For her part, Natalie noted that the mask is to prevent infection, that a simple cold could become something far more serious for Dan.
How do you react when you find out your life is threatened by disease, especially so shortly after welcoming a new life into the world?
“Your mind is just spinning the whole time,” Dan said. Now on leave from his job, he added he at first tried to continue to work. “You’re sitting there in a business meeting and you just don’t care … It just changes your focus.”
“It’s like your life has just been brought to a screaming halt,” Natalie said.
“It’s pretty tough having something like that happen to Dan,” French said. “You think, ‘How did this happen? He’s such a good guy.’”
French admitted his fundraiser is a bit different.
“It seems like kind of a silly thing to do,” French said of his hirsute efforts. “So far though, it’s been fairly successful.”