Soap that cures cancer? No miracle, but good fundraiser
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Bob Middleburg displays Bob's Kickin' Cancer Soap, made by his Townsend Bay Soap Co. to raise money for sarcoma research.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND –– Although its ultimate goal is to cleanse, the newest bar from Townsend Bay Soap Co. owners Bob and Carol Middelburg also will help fight cancer.

Special bars of Bob's Kickin' Cancer Soap are on sale across the North Olympic Peninsula.

The Middleburgs are donating $5 from the $5.45 cost of each bar to sarcoma research.

They already have raised more than $2,000 by selling hundreds of bars since early May.

The goal is to raise $5,000.

Bob Middleburg, 70, is undergoing treatment for sarcoma, driving with Carol and friends to Poulsbo every weekday for radiation treatment at the Peninsula Cancer Center.

“Cancer takes the weekends off,” he said.

According to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance website site at, most of the approximately 10,000 new cases of sarcoma diagnosed in the nation each year are soft-tissue cancers, while the rest are in bones.

Bob Middleburg, a retired hydrogeologist, just finished the third week of a five-week radiation schedule.

Soon, he will travel to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to have cancer cells removed from tissue on his upper left arm.

Shortly after his diagnosis, Bob's daughter-in-law, Keri Middleburg, said he should “kick the ass out of cancer,” Bob said.

Thus spawned the idea for the “Bob's Kickin' Cancer” soap.

“We old folks thought the swear was a little too risque,” he said.

The “kickin' cancer” soaps are the versions of Townsend Bay's soap, which is made by hand in small batches, and comes in four scents: Olympic Woods, Lavender Mist, Sunny Day and Hawaiian Hut.

It's a new addition to the soaps, lip balm, bubble bath and bath salts that the couple sells.

Last year, Carol said, the couple sold more than 2 tons of soap from the “factory” that is in the basement of their home on Morgan Hill's eastern bluff.

In a laboratory created from Bob's woodshop, Carol melds oils and lye into bars of soap for area retailers and Internet customers.

She also uses a thin soap-slicer created by Bob – a la an egg-slicer – to make skinny bars of soap that are stocked in local lodging establishments.

As Bob's hours in the woodshop have helped Carol in her soap making, Bob said her hours escorting him to treatment and holding his hand have helped ease his mind through his cancer treatment.

“I don't know how I would have gotten through this if I didn't have her,” he said.

His doctors told him there will be a roughly 20 percent chance that the cancer will return after his treatment is finished.

“Which sounds a lot to me like an 80 percent chance of success. I'll take that,” he said.

Sarcoma, the Middleburgs said, receives less than 1 percent of funding that goes toward cancer research.

Bob's was discovered after they noticed a fatty lump under his left arm had grown.

A biopsy revealed the sarcoma.

“It's just not something you ever think about it until it's presented to you every day,” he said of the disease in his arm.

In addition to the $5,000 in direct funding, the Middelburgs hope the bars of soap will help bring more attention to the disease.

The soaps are sold at several locations throughout the country, including multiple outlets on the peninsula.

For a listing, and more about “Bob's Kickin' Cancer” soap, visit the Townsend Bay Soap Company website at

For more on sarcoma, visit the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance website.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: June 02. 2013 6:19PM
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