Phil Harbridge and his granddaughter Teal. (Contributed photo)

Phil Harbridge and his granddaughter Teal. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey man raises funds for multiple myeloma research

Vancouver Multiple Myeloma March to take place Sunday, Oct. 18

South Surrey’s Phil Harbridge says because of the obscurity of the disease, raising funds for multiple myeloma research has had its challenges when compared to some other, better-known, cancers.

However, Harbridge, who was diagnosed with myeloma last year, says the cancer is not, in fact, as rare as one might suspect.

A retired high school teacher and avid runner, Harbridge noticed his body was acting strangely when he tried to keep his regular pace. His breathing was becoming more laboured and he wasn’t getting the oxygen he required.

Harbridge, 57 at the time, brushed it off as a sign of age.

But then, while on a run in Palm Springs in August 2018, something happened that Harbridge had not experienced before – he tripped and broke a rib.

The injury inspired more frequent visits to the doctor. The doctor took note of Harbridge’s anemia and, with the help of a keen eye from medical staff, an oddity was spotted in Harbridge’s blood work. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in February 2019.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that is associated with abnormal growth of the plasma cell. Plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell, produce antibodies.

Symptoms of the disease include pain (mostly frequently back pain) fatigue, anemia, recurrent infections and cold sores, and kidney problems.

According to Myeloma Canada, the average age at diagnosis is 62 years old for men and 61 for women.

And that, paired with the symptoms associated with the disease, is one reason why Harbridge says that myeloma is, perhaps, more common that one might believe.

“I’m telling you, there’s a lot of people that probably have it that they don’t know about. You know, 10-20 years ago people died from this not knowing they had it and maybe just struggled with back pain and breathing,” Harbridge said.

He said it’s the second-most common blood cancer, after leukemia.

“If you mention it to most people, they would never know what it is. They never heard of it. And that was my case when I was first diagnosed.”

Harbridge is striving to raise awareness and funds for myeloma research. He’s a member of this year’s Vancouver Multiple Myeloma March, which aims to “make myeloma matter.”

His team, Surrey Multiple Myeloma Marchers, are seeking donations before and after the event, which is to take place this Sunday, Oct. 18.

Typically held in Burnaby, the event will look a little different this year, for obvious reasons, and it will instead be held as neighbourhood walks.

To donate his team or to learn more about the disease, visit www.myelomamarch.ca

Cancerfundraiser

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Image: CDC)
Fraser Health orders Surrey food-processing facility to close amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility also tests positive for the virus

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Six Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Lotto winner Erwin Espiritu. (submitted photo: BCLC media relations)
$1M lotto surprise for Surrey dad buying takeout food for son’s birthday

‘When I went to show my son, he said that there was six zeros on the screen, not three’

Pumpkins outside Malvinder Gill’s farm on 152nd Street in Surrey. (submitted photo: Sarah Wilson)
At Surrey farm, free pumpkins for donation to food bank

‘Amazing for the community, especially during the pandemic,’ says one local resident

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read