World Osteoporosis Day

Ms. Jossyphine Muthoni, known as Jossy among her peers and in her community, is a young Kenyan woman from a humble family, now aged about 26 years. As the first born, she has always aided in family decision-making, and therefore learned to be responsible at a very young age.

Jossy developed a passion to help the vulnerable and disadvantaged people living in urban and rural areas. As she was beginning high school, she went to stay with her grandmother who in turn instilled principles that were essential to her life. Her upbringing taught her to appreciate aging and help the elderly to live life to the fullest. In 2010 she volunteered her time to work with the Kenya Osteoporosis Prevention and Age Concern (OPAC), a pioneer bone health research organization based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work involved visiting the sick and elderly in the urban slums, and organizing free medical camps for disadvantaged communities. Jossy shared nutrition information by creating urban farms which utilized small spaces throughout these communities.

Jossy founded the Elderly Digital Literacy (EDL) in Kenya, where she helps elderly people to connect with their relatives living abroad through Skype. With Jossy’s hard work and dedication, the African elderly are able to benefit from modern technology. 

She dedicates most of her valued time to help the elderly and the most vulnerable people in the society. When she is not working with the elderly, Jossy teaches climate change literacy to children aged 4 to 12 in Kenya’s primary schools.

Her current focus is to fund-raise globally for the osteoporosis research study among the people living around the shores of Lake Turkana, Kenya. “My heart is with the people of Turkana in Kenya, that are suffering from Osteoporosis, yet they can’t do anything about it because even the local authorities don’t know how to go about it. I need all people of good will and concerned world organizations to join me in this noble task of alleviating bone and joint pain to a whole community living around this salty lake.” Her dedication to this project, along with all of her work towards assisting the elderly in Kenya have made her the most recent addition to the Women of Steel project.

Salima Ladak-Kachra, 43, sustained four vertebral fractures after slipping and falling on a ceramic floor at the age of 25. "The excruciating pain and emotional distress that I endured is something that I do not want others to go through," says Salima. A DXA scan later showed that she had severe osteopenia in both the spine and femur, as well as other old healing-fractures in the thoracic spine.

Salima recalls her long recovery: "I went through severe pain, and was not able to walk, shower, eat or dress without assistance.  In the months that followed, I lost one inch in height, and my waist size increased from 18 to 22 inches." The painkillers made her constantly sleepy, and she had trouble performing daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning. With the constant pain in her back, she began to suffer both physically and emotionally--putting a strain on her marriage.

Prior to her fractures, Salima had seen a few physicians complaining of back pain, but she was not checked for osteoporosis--probably due to her young age. In retrospect, risk factors were apparent: both her parents suffer from the disease, she had a low BMI, a history of poor calcium intake and little exercise in her youth.

Today Salima still copes with back pain on a daily basis, and continues to have difficulty bending or sitting without support or for prolonged periods. Yet she has taken a proactive role in her recovery through a total lifestyle change. She ensures adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, follows a targeted exercise regimen, and has increased her weight to a healthy 54 kilograms. She is also careful to use proper techniques in bending and sitting, refrains from heavy lifting, and receives help with chores when necessary.

As a result of her own devastating experience, Salima now dedicates her life to bone health advocacy. She co-founded the Bone Wellness Centre, a health facility in Toronto which supports awareness, prevention and diagnosis of osteoporosis and provides free education and counseling.  

Gal Lousky

Gal Lousky was born in a Kibbutz community not far from the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Gal was raised as the only girl in a class of boys.  Gal’s communal Kibbutz life taught her about the physical challenges of the outdoors, and life in this small community surrounded by nature involved long working hours in the Kibbutz's banana groves and cowsheds.

Gal’s upbringing taught her to accept hard physical labor, as well as the importance of being part of a devoted community in which individuals really care about the well-being of one another. Since an early age, she learned that helping others is not altruism or even a chore, but rather, the only way one should live life.

Even as a child, Gal was attracted to the idea of breaking through barriers and rethinking the accepted ways of doing things. During her final year of high school, she took a number of criminology courses in the nearby college. In high school, she also studied alternative medicine. To pay for her tuition, she worked both as a flight attendant and in the office of a private investigator. Some of the tactics that she learned in these jobs were later put to use in the creation of her aid providing tool kit.

In 1993, Gal's brother was seriously injured while doing his military service. This event dramatically changed Gal's life.  The event helped her understand her life's goal – to reduce unnecessary injuries and death as much as she possibly could, especially those caused by violence. Gal assisted her brother’s healing process for almost a year and eventually even dropped out of university in order to help him recover.

Gal completely changed her life by teaching and training locals in high risk areas. When Gal arrives to assist disasters and human conflict in the world’s most dangerous regions, people are often surprised to find a woman as the leader of the aid force.  For all of these reasons, Gal Lousky is our nomination for the Woman of Steel Project.

Dana Zátopková

Dana Zátopková was nominated for the Women of Steel project by the Osteologic Academy of Zlín because of her work with the society and its patients, as well as her role as a public advocate for sports and healthy living as one of the Czech Republic’s greatest-ever athletes.

Dana Zátopková comes from Uherské Hradiště, a small town in Moravia, not far from Zlín. She became active in sports while studying at a Gymnázium (Secondary school). First she played tennis and team handball, then after the WWII she turned into athletics, with a specialty in javelin.

Emil Zátopek, her late-husband, was working in the Tomas Bata shoe factory at the time the couple met for the first time during an athletic competition in Zlín in 1948. In October, the same year, after returning from the Olympic Games in London, the couple got married.

Their luck came in Helsinki, at the Olympic Games of 1952. Dana received a gold medal in javelin, and Emil received gold medals in the 5 km run, a 10 km run and also the marathon, which he ran the first time in his life. Emil Zátopek became a national hero. Dana, for her part, went on to compete in four straight Olympics.  She set a world record in the javelin in 1958, and then went on to win the silver medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics before she retired and became a coach.

After the Prague Spring in 1968, Dana and her husband, advocates for the democratization of the Soviet occupied Czech Republic, fell out of favor with the government. Refusing to leave their native country, they suffered harsh punishments because of their political beliefs. 

After the country returned to democracy in 1989, the couple were vindicated by then-President Václav Havel, and eventually awarded a number of prestigious national awards in recognition for their outstanding athletic achievements.

Dana Zátopková still holds the last world record in javelin with a wooden spear. After finishing her career, she worked as a youth trainer in athletics for the spear discipline, and later she trained aspiring athletes in shot putting as well. She worked closely with the International Athletic Federation throughout her life, and she is still a member of the board of the Czech Olympians Club. Dana was awarded an Olympic Order in 1988, and 15 years later she received a State Decoration, the Medal of Merit.

Dana Zátopková suffered a severe fracture at the age of 85, and since then, she has had a difficult time walking. While her mobility is limited, Dana remains an important public advocate for the promotion of sports and athletics in the Czech Republic and has shown throughout her long and incredible history that she is a true Woman of Steel.

Nia Yancopoulos

Nia Yancopoulos received several nominations for IOF’s Woman of Steel project because of her dynamic personality, her leadership qualities, and the inspirational nature of her story. IOF has chosen to feature her as this month’s Woman of Steel with the hopes that her story will inspire other young women around the world as much as those who know her.

Nia was born with a hereditary bone condition that required both back and ankle surgeries while she was just a young girl. Afflicted with a condition known as Athletic Performance Energy Deficit, her bones were naturally weaker than normal, despite being in good health and leading a very active lifestyle otherwise. Athletic and Performance Energy Deficit occurs in children when their nutrition doesn’t match their energy needs, so their bodies do not build bones strong enough to support their athletics. This condition led to serious bone health issues for Nia very early on in life, but like every obstacle that she has faced, these setbacks became new challenges for her to overcome.

 

A natural athlete, Nia excelled in basketball, soccer, softball and running, even when her bone health issues were becoming more and more serious. For nearly a year, she continued playing various sports with a seemingly broken back before doctors correctly identified the source of her ongoing pain to be a Pars Fracture (spondylolysis). The Pars Fracture occurs in the lower portion of the spinal column--normally around the lumbar vertabrae — and can be a problem for young athletes involved in activities that require the routine bending and straightening of the spine.  As a result of the Pars Fracture, she wore a body cast for six months, underwent a seven hour surgery, followed by a week in the intensive care unit.

Still only 20 years of age, Nia has already persevered through a lifetime's worth of challenges. Now studying for a career in medicine, she hopes to spread awareness about Athletic Performance Energy Deficit so that that her experience with the condition and with her various fractures are avoided by other young athletes. And like every other goal she has put in front of herself so far — be it personal, athletic, or academic — we are sure she will triumph.

Eila ‘Rap-Granny’ Nevanranta

Rap-Granny Eila (77 years) started to make rap four years ago. She chose the medium of rap music because she thought it would be the best way to express herself and her opinions and to be noticed. Eila wanted to support those who don’t have so much in life, to open our eyes to issues that do not normally receive much attention, to advocate a message of tolerance, and to give bigger voice to those whose voice is normally small—for example, the elderly and the homeless.

Voluntary work has always been an important part of Eila Nevanranta’s life. Her life as a volunteer began while helping Russian people living in institutions just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and she continues to volunteer her times for various causes today.

Through her music, Rap-Granny Eila has become well-known in Finland, but her new found fame does not interest her, she only views it as useful to help get her message to the wider public.

Eila Nevanranta has osteoporosis, scoliosis, kyphosis and lardosis, and she has lost 8 centimeters from her height over the years.

Mummo (Granny) Rap

Try to remember your granny one of these days

and give here a call first thing next Sunday.

Granny is the one who made you a mom and a dad.

Go and see what’s up with her now, or it might be too late.
 
Granny talks and remembers past times,

go and check on granny before she drops dead.

Call and go chat with your grandma,

it might be very rewarding.
 
Try and she will get it, she will even think it is cool.

Try and she will get , she will even think it cool.
If you don’t have a granny of your own, check-out the neighbourhood, you might find a granny there.
Try and she will get it she will even think it is cool.

Try and she will get it, she will even think it is cool.

 

Women of Steel

Who are your #WomenOfSteel? This year, nominate someone who you think is a true Woman of Steel - with grit, determination and strength, inside and out.

Every month the International Osteoporosis Foundation will select a Woman of Steel from the nominees, to feature on its website and social media pages. The shortlisted #WomenOfSteel will become ambassadors for the campaign and receive their own personalized poster highlighting why they were nominated.

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