New Zealand 2020
“Osteoporosis is one of the most common chronic diseases. It causes a person’s bones to become more porous and fragile, greatly increasing their risk of suffering a fracture. Sufferers of these serious yet largely preventable injuries often experience severe pain, long-term disability and even early death. The burden to health systems, economies and society is also huge – and on the increase… 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture.” – The Global Burden of Osteoporosis: A Factsheet
We will also be raising awareness and money for osteoporosis while on Te Araroa. This 'silent' disease is prevalent, (with over 140, 822 osteoporotic fractures a year in Aus, with an expected 30% increase by 2020) debilitating, expensive for our society (predicted $3.84 billion in Aus by 2020) and largely preventable.
My connection to this disease is personal. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis (OP) at 24. When my scan came back indicating that my bones were frail I felt lost. I had no way of gauging how fragile I was, how this would affect my life or how I could move about without the constant fear that one badly placed step could lead to a serious fracture. As you can imagine this was quite a shock and has had a huge impact on my life.
Now at 29, I’ve learnt a lot more about bones and my body. Through research, doctors and personal trial and error I’ve made my body stronger and increased my bone density through diet and exercise (at this young age I’ve been advised that this is the best course of action - I may need to consider medication when I’m older). I have gone from OP to what is technically termed ‘osteopenia’ - put simply, my bones are a little denser and stronger! My future and bone health is brighter than 5 years ago and I now believe I’m strong enough to walk 3000km with a pack, or at least give it a good go :)
My hope is to give this ‘silent’ disease a voice. When I was first diagnosed I knew basically nothing about OP and associated it with old people… a perspective so far in the future that it could not possible apply to me. Bone loss is a natural part of aging, but there are lifestyle choices that can help reduce the likelihood of developing OP.
For these reasons, we will be raising money for OP research.
We reached out to Dr. Peter Ebeling, head of the department of Medicine at Monash University. Dr. Ebeling encourages people to know their bones, and stresses the importance of bone care in younger people (sufficient calcium intake, avoid smoking etc). For this reason we have decided to make a donation to his research.
We will personally contribute a $500 donation to start it off and when we commence walking we will encourage others to donate through a button on our website. Finally, 20% of our total merch sales on tour will also be donated to OP research.
Mickey or Michelle, depending who has more to say on the subject :)