For more than 15 years, I’ve grappled with the relentless presence of stomach ulcers. My journey with this affliction began as a boarding house student, in secondary school, where the daily fare didn’t align with my dietary preferences. Often, I found myself skipping meals, particularly lunchtime.
In the early days, when I received my first diagnosis, I was largely ignorant of the underlying causes of stomach ulcers. While I followed the prescribed treatment regimen, the ulcers stubbornly recurred, refusing to relent. I vividly recall that during my initial diagnosis, the medical test didn’t detect Helicobacter Pylori (H.Pylori) in my blood – the bacterium frequently associated with ulcers. It was only upon the recommendation of another doctor that I underwent stool testing, which eventually revealed the presence of H. Pylori.
Even with medication, the pain persisted, and I found myself frequently returning to the hospital, seeking relief. A stomach ulcer, I realized, is a serious ailment that poses a significant threat to people’s lives, subjecting one to unexplainable discomfort and excruciating pains. Yet, this disease often languishes in the shadow of more recognized diseases.
Despite my pain, I embarked on a relentless search for existing initiatives or support groups that could empathize with the daily struggles of living with a stomach ulcer. My efforts to find such a community proved abortive. While the internet was replete with support groups for various illnesses, there wasn’t a single initiative dedicated to stomach ulcers in Africa.
This stark absence fueled my determination. I was resolute in my mission to establish a platform where the voices of those affected by stomach ulcers and digestive health issues could be heard and, more importantly, where support, awareness and understanding could be found. Thus, Ulcer Aid Foundation was born – Africa’s inaugural foundation exclusively for individuals battling stomach ulcers.
While it’s essential to understand that a community alone cannot cure stomach ulcers, it does empower individuals with the strength to confront this relentless disease. With Ulcer Aid Foundation, I’ve created a passionate community and a non-profit organization focused on providing emotional support, increasing awareness, extending financial assistance, and most significantly, ensuring that no one faces the challenges of stomach ulcers alone.
Building a community around a health issue like ulcers can be challenging but Social media has been a helpful tool I have utilised and getting it to work for me in creating a community, bringing people together to connect, support and share similar experiences.
We have also taken to rural communities to sensitise people and create awareness on the best ways to avoid contracting bacteria-causing ulcers like H. Pylori which can be found in fruits and vegetables that we consume daily. We also equip people already living with stomach ulcers with vital information on how to manage this disease.
At the inception of Ulcer Aid Foundation, I didn’t think I would get the level of support I have currently. As a new organisation with little funds, I didn’t think people would be willing to offer and volunteer themselves to push this organisation forward. It’s been overwhelming and I’m really grateful.
We have had a number of people calling in to share their stories and to express how excited they are to have Ulcer Aid Foundation around.
Also, we have Ulcer Aid Foundation Representatives across various states in Nigeria. These representatives are empowered with in-depth knowledge of this disease to enable them to create awareness. We provide funds that were sourced through crowdfunding and my pocket money to give financial support to ulcer patients. For example, Paying their hospital bills, purchasing their medications and food where it is needed.
Future goals and aspirations:
In the heart of Ulcer Aid lies a commitment to carrying everyone along and sharing in their pain. Our collective strength is the antidote to this affliction. We have started with just Nigeria and I’m hoping we can stretch into other countries in Africa in leading the fight against stomach ulcer. I’ve walked this path, and I firmly believe that anyone facing this challenge can find solace and strength within our community.
How can we be supported?
People can support Ulcer Aid Foundation by simply volunteering with us and also donating to our foundation to help facilitate our goal.
The most important aspect of awareness and how can society better understand the seriousness of this illness.
I believe equipping people with the right knowledge on risk factors for stomach ulcers and digestive health issues is key. I said “right knowledge” because there are myths about stomach ulcers. Ulcers can be prevented with the right knowledge.
For example, NSAID-induced ulcers, stress and chronic smoking. When society is armed with the right knowledge, we can make better and more informed decisions on our diet and lifestyle. Ultimately, knowledge I would say is the most important aspect.
Based on your own experience and the work of Ulcer Aid Foundation, my message to people out there is to seek help timely. Early detection plays a significant role in treatment and getting the ulcers to heal. People should never undermine stomach ulcers and must ensure necessary measures, as well as precautions, are taken to get rid of this disease.
I’m delighted to also add that stomach ulcers can be managed with the right treatment and strict adherence to your medication. Ulcer Aid Foundation is here to facilitate this through support, awareness and sensitization.
CEO, Ulcer Aid Foundation
Twitter and Instagram: @Ulceraid