Larry Gifford is the Senior Programming Director at Corus Entertainment in Vancouver and host of The Radio Stuff podcast. He is 46 years old, with an 8 year old son and a wife of 19 years. In August of last year, he was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease (YOPD).
The day after Larry's diagnosis, he called Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC). After speaking to the education and support services staff, he received an information package that included resources about Parkinson's that detailed what to expect as well as how to access PSBC counselling and support groups. Soon after that, he joined one of the Newly Diagnosed support groups that meet monthly in Vancouver. Larry describes the prompt connection with PSBC as reassuring. He says, "At that time, when you learn about your diagnosis, the more information you can get, the better. PSBC is an organization that can help from the get-go. I was able to take action immediately. There's not much you can do when you're diagnosed with Parkinson's, other than exercise, which I've been adversarial to since I was young. By finding a community I could talk to, we could share experiences and try to work through some of the anxieties."
As he was adjusting to his Parkinson's disease (PD) diagnosis, Larry only told close friends, family and colleagues about it. He purposely chose not to discuss it with many other people, since he didn't want to feel defined by the disease. One day, he was listening to a podcast by the Michael J. Fox Foundation as they discussed how Parkinson's disease will become a pandemic in the near future and the need for more vocal Parkinson's advocates. This changed Larry's thinking. As an executive with a media company, he recognized he had a platform to help raise awareness and saw an opportunity to spread the word.
On April 11th, 2018 (World Parkinson's Day), Larry chose to go public about his diagnosis for the first time. He is appearing on the Global News Morning BC television show at 7:45am, as well as the Linda Steel Show and Charles Adler Tonight (both radio shows) on 980 CKNW. He has also encouraged Global News to publish more stories about Parkinson's disease throughout the month of April. All of this content can be either listened to live or accessed through www.globalnews.ca/bc. His audio documentary, "When Life Gives Your Parkinson's" is available for listening at www.omny.fm/shows/cknw/when-life-gives-you-parkinsons. You can also follow Larry (@giffordtweet) on Twitter.
Larry hopes that by sharing his Parkinson's story, others will do the same. He explains, "everyone's Parkinson's experience is different. It's not just about me. I'm trying to start a conversation. I encourage everyone who has Parkinson's to break the silence to help end our suffering. Let's raise awareness and funds. This is our disease, we should own it and find a way to make our lives better."