Larry Funnell: A voice for men with osteoporosis
Upon his retirement in 2006 from his position with the federal government, Larry turned his attention to learning more about osteoporosis. His quest for answers and information he could trust led him to the Canadian Osteoporosis Patient Network and Osteoporosis Canada. Finally, here were the people who understood what he was going through, a man, seemingly alone, in the woman’s world of osteoporosis.
Larry was diagnosed with osteoporosis when he was 48 years old, shortly after moving to Vancouver from Ottawa. He recounts his experiences with the disease:
I was shocked when my doctor told me I had osteoporosis. Like many others, I didn’t think that the disease affected men.
“Even though I broke many bones in my mid to late 40s, all from accidents no more severe than a fall from a standing position, it wasn’t until my tenth fracture that the diagnosis of osteoporosis was confirmed. My history with bone breaks suddenly made sense.
“As a man, I felt isolated by osteoporosis. The Internet told me that a significant number of those afflicted with osteoporosis were men. Really? Where were they hiding? Didn’t they want to talk to other men and share their experiences? Perhaps they too were embarrassed to learn they had the disease – indeed my own embarrassment kept me from telling anyone other than my family that I had osteoporosis.
“That all began to change with the arrival of a simple email chock full of information about osteoporosis – the COPING newsletter from the Canadian Osteoporosis Patient Network. The discovery of COPN lifted a considerable weight from my shoulders. Here were people who truly understood what I was going through. For the first time I was comfortable to openly share my story. As my enthusiasm grew for the things COPN was doing to help individuals like me, so too did my involvement in the organization.
“I am proud to now be the Chair of COPN. It is an honour to be part of a group of individuals who are so committed to helping those affected by osteoporosis live well and live safely.
Larry and his wife Alice live in Cloverdale, British Columbia with their dog Leesha. They have two grown sons and three grandchildren. Larry has started a second career working at a home improvement retailer where he helps customers fulfill all their needs for seasonal products and services.