Harold Anderson - Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

Featured Supporter:
Harold Anderson

Chicago 5K Walk/Run

Chicago 5K Walk/Run 2015 Spirit of Hope Honoree

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize Harold Anderson as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2015 MMRF Team for Cures Chicago 5K Walk/Run.

Harold’s Story

Posted August 2015

Harold Anderson was born on a small farm in Ontario, Canada. His father crossed the border to Detroit, joined the U. S. Marine Corps, and went off to fight WWII in the Pacific. When the war was over and his father came home, they settled in Detroit where Harold grew up. Upon graduating from high school, Harold received a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, graduating with distinction four years later with the Class of 1964.

Harold spent the next 27 years on active duty in the Navy, 18 of which were in submarines. His last tour of sea duty was four years as Commanding Officer of USS SHARK, a nuclear attack submarine. His last tour on active duty was as Professor of Naval Science at Illinois Institute of Technology.

After retiring from active duty, he taught high school at Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago until the myeloma started affecting him. Harold worked as an accountant for a while until the multiple compression fractures in his lower spine force him to take time off for a stem cell transplant and then later required him to retire.

When Harold could no longer work, he could not afford to live in Lake Forest, IL any longer. Harold and his wife decided to move back to Michigan where they had started out together in high school in the 1950s. Harold and his wife have two daughters: one lives in Michigan while the other is located in Hawaii with her husband and Harold’s 2 grandchildren.

Harold attributes his success at raising over $130,000 for the MMRF over the past 15 years to support from his Naval Academy classmates and his submarine shipmates. When Harold was diagnosed in 1998, he was blessed to have a mentor, Michelle Bailey to show him how to survive. Michelle and Harold sang in the church choir together. She had been diagnosed with myeloma about two years before Harold, about the same time as Kathy Giusti. Michelle took him to support group meetings where Harold learned what he really needed to know. Judy Goldman, their support group organizer and leader, was also instrumental in his early myeloma education.

Harold relapsed in 2003. He took thalidomide in about one-year cycles. When on thalidomide, Harold’s IgA would come down. When it reached the normal range, he would stop taking the thalidomide, and Harold’s IgA would go back up. When Revlimid was approved by the FDA in 2006, he switched to continuous Revlimid. Harold is currently taking 10 mg/day of Revlimid and 20 mg once a week of dexamethasone. He anticipates having to switch to a different therapy soon due to very low blood counts at the end of every 21 day cycle.

Michelle Bailey and Harold walked the Chicago 5K together every year from 2001 to 2006. A couple of those years they had to share an umbrella. When Michelle died in 2007, they organized a team in her memory. They designed their own team t-shirts with Michelle’s portrait done by a mutual artist friend, had it silk-screened by another mutual friend, and got Michelle’s family and friends together to walk in her memory.

In 2008, Harold celebrated ten years as a myeloma survivor, so he set his goal at $10,000. Until that year, Harold had always had a goal of $6,400 in recognition of the fact that most of his contributions were from his Naval Academy Classmates of the Class of ’64. Since 2008, he has raised his goal by $1,000 each year, so he is up to $17,000 this year. Harold has never not made his goal.

Harold has always registered as an individual rather than a team, but he has never had to walk alone. Since 2011, he has been walking with friends that he met on a trip to Australia and New Zealand. They have been coming from Texas, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin and Quebec to walk with him.

The MMRF works tirelessly to find a cure to extend the lives of patients just like Harold, and is proud to honor Harold Anderson as the 2015 recipient of the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award, given at every MMRF 5K Walk/Run event to a person who inspires hope and shows extraordinary commitment to the MMRF. Harold has touched the myeloma community with his strength of character, his kindness, and his embodiment of hope.