Iruoma Ofortube is my name from Nigeria in West Africa, resides in Nigeria. In my early forties. I am married with 3 children, i planned to have four kids but the debilitating effects of Thyroid disease dashed my dream. That was how my sad story started as i passed through a strange ailment i never knew it existed. For a period of four and half years i was a shadow of my old self, mentally, psychologically, physically wrecked, socially stigmatised with no one understanding what i was passing through. Ignorance took its toll on me and my loved one, was long frustrating journey of seeking for cure without any light and proper direction, worsened by poor access of medical and therapeutic medical facilities adding to accessible and affordable medical personnel.
I lived to see my health get from bad to worse, alive and seeing the hopeless end, i sought for counseling i could not get, i asked the doctor treating me to explain exactly what i was going through and potential expectations, he lacked the knowledge.
The treatment i was being offered did not suffice, the symptoms increased by the day, fear and anxiety became my best silent companion. I lost weight so significantly and became more irritable, my eyes bulging out as though it was going to leave the sockets, it was so bad that my eye lids could not cover my eyeballs. sleeplessness, fatigue and other numerous explainable symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism bewildered me, i became an object of caricature and gossip in my wok place and community. I gave up my job for the quest for cure.
Started in 2008, in April 2012 help came my way through a friend that took me to another state in Nigeria where her mother was treated of a similar condition, as at that time my body systems were shutting down. It was indeed a liberation period. What took the doctor that was treating me four years to correct and treat, took the specialist 4 months to totally reverse my thyroid levels to normal, i was booked for surgery and it came out very successful. Gradually my life and health bounced back.
Having gone through all these trauma and ordeal, i began to reason and imagine how other women will be passing through a strange disease that has a cure in ignorance and how many would have died because of the complications of Thyroid disease.
i drew my inspiration and empathy from there and started a deep research on the disease, using my near death experience to sensitize people about thyroid health and its related disease and directing them, providing emotional and other support and creating awareness on thyroid disease.
Thyroid disease is a Gender specific disease that is found more prevalent in female than male to the rate of 80%- 20%.
My passion went deeper when i found out that Thyroid disease is a promotes infertility, its a threat to women reproductive health and consequently contributes to maternal mortality, the stigma subjects some the victims to a state of suicidal thoughts and frustration. we drive the awareness with strong advocacy.
Today in Nigeria, i legally registered the first organisation that creates awareness on thyroid disease in 2017, we also realize that we are first in Africa. The Major aim is to create and spread awareness of thyroid awareness across the Sub Saharan Africa while we work to improve the quality of lives of People Living With Thyroid Disease (PLTD), by providing desired support (emotional and treatment) directing them to the appropriate place to access quality and affordable healthcare.
So far, through our awareness programs and outreaches, more than 20 communities have benefited greatly, In a period of 2 years more than 100 victims have benefited from our free treatment and surgery scheme and still counting.
Proper awareness has helped in eliminating stigma over thyroid disease victims both in urban and rural communities.
We have succeeded in demystifying and changing the narrative of thyroid disease in Nigeria.
We are still working to penetrate more communities, to reach out and impact more lives.
FACEBOOK- Thyroidism Awareness and Support Initiative