ITP Conference 2022 - Ambassador Program

Introduced in 2016, this program welcomes first-time attendees to the premier patient event. ITP Conference Ambassadors guide new guests through a weekend filled with in-depth disease information, treatment options, the latest research reports, access to world renowned specialists, and life-altering resources. Together they forge meaningful connections that eliminate the mystery and empower patients and caregivers to take control of ITP.

Meet This Year’s Ambassadors!

CathyRaulAldamaCathy (ITP Warrior) and Raul (ITP Spouse) Aldama

Hometown: Laguna Niguel, CA

ITP Warrior & ITP Spouse since: 2006

Daily Inspiration:
My family; and new travel adventures.

Raul: Today will be a great day if I let it be.

ITP Survival Tip:
Seek out as much information as you can so you can be your best advocate.
Raul: Understand that you can control ITP more than it can control you.

Favorite thing about ITP Conference:
hard to pick just, all the great people...seeing old friends, and making new ones!...and, of course, the wealth of information!
Raul: It’s very encouraging to hear how optimistic the panel of experts are.  The information and education and hope they provide is very encouraging.

Kim EverettKim & Jim Everett

Hometown: Manitowoc, Wisconsin

ITP Warrior since: Primary ITP diagnosis 1983 – Lupus diagnosis 1993. Currently in remission since 2008, after 25 years refractory to treatment ITP.

Daily inspiration: Family, friends, and inspiration from others, who have worse challenges in life.

ITP Survival tip: Get out and live life, enjoy company of others and keep learning.

Favorite thing about ITP Conference: Meeting others, learning, and enjoying the location PDSA chooses for conferences.

Tammy FassettTammy Fassett

Hometown: Seattle, WA

ITP Warrior since: 2006

Daily inspiration: Happiness is a choice.

ITP Survival tip: Ask as many questions as you need to, you are your best advocate.

Favorite thing about ITP Conference: Meeting all the people, hearing the stories, and knowing you are not alone.

Melissa HilsabeckMelissa Hilsabeck

Hometown: Orange County, CA

ITP Warrior since: 2010

Daily Inspiration: Making people laugh and smile! You never know what someone else is going through so I believe a little smile can go a long way and laughter is the cure for everything.

ITP Survival Tip: Maintain an open communication relationship with your doctor so you feel just as involved in your treatment decision making process. Don't rush into anything you are uncomfortable with and research treatments before saying yes so you know they are right for you. Bonus Tip: PDSA has done all the research for you and they are available 24/7!

Favorite thing about ITP Conference: Seeing people from previous years continuing to stay involved in PDSA and sharing their experiences back in their hometowns. Having a meeting or putting on an event at least once a year really goes a long way. Hearing about them at the conference is very inspirational and serves as motivation to continually stay involved.

PayntersSusan and Dale Paynter

Hometown: Cambridge, ON, Canada

ITP Spouse & ITP Warrior since: 2010

Daily Inspiration:
Susan: Every day is a gift. Be kind. Be patient. Be positive. Tell your family you love them.
Dale: Having friends that are family from so many different parts of my life, and being able to add to those great times.

ITP Survival Tip:
Susan: Although Dale’s numbers are low, it does not slow him down. As a caregiver, try to be as supportive as possible. I have met Dale’s hematologist and of course, Dr. Arnold. Make sure appointments are kept. We assess if events/trips may affect him and/or how to do the event. Stay positive and realize that you are not alone. PDSA is always there to help.
Dale: This is just a small part of who you are. Don’t let ITP stop you from doing and being so many things. I’ve had positive experiences I couldn’t have possibly imagined a decade ago. Welcome to a group that you didn’t expect to be part of, but can’t imagine being without.

Favorite thing about ITP Conference:
Susan: Reuniting with our awesome PDSA family! Yes, we do consider you our family. The doctors are so approachable and always have time for you. Also, everyone has learned a lot over the past few years – even the doctors! Staff is SOOO helpful.
Dale:  Sharing and learning about other people’s experiences on this journey. My first conference was in 2011 eight months after being diagnosed. There was nothing more reassuring about this new journey than being in a room of hundreds of other people who were going through the same thing as you – I wasn’t alone.

DawnandJohnPhillipsDawn (ITP Mom) and John (ITP Warrior) Phillips 

Hometown: Sacramento, CA area

ITP Mom & ITP Warrior since: March 2014 when John was diagnosed and we have been raising awareness ever since.

Daily Inspiration:
Dawn: My daily inspiration is seeing the support and care offered on the PDSA Facebook page in real time for those with pressing concerns and questions at any time of day or night. I was once that person and am happy to help others now that I have the knowledge and experience. Being a voice and an extra set of ears was so important for my son as he traveled on his ITP journey. However, it was important for me to also care for myself while I cared for my son.
John: My daily inspiration is remembering all the times I have helped others who struggle with this frustrating disease and seeing a smile emerge as they feel a sense of relief and realize that they are not alone.

ITP Survival Tip:
Dawn: Keep calm and know that other people understand what you are going through and are there to answer your questions.
John: I advise others to take care of themselves and ask for help when needed.

Favorite thing about ITP Conference:
Dawn: The conferences have been such a blessing to me as I immediately found others who have been in my shoes and the staff have had warm smiles and endless resources for us, year after year. The conference is a fun, informative, therapeutic, and heartwarming experience that I highly recommend.
John:  My favorite thing about the conference is being an ambassador to new participants and reuniting with the regular attendees as well.

PruittsBarbara Pruitt

Greetings and welcome to your first PDSA conference! I guarantee you will not be disappointed and I hope I can help you navigate this busy weekend. I remember going to my first conference about 20 years ago. It was the first time I had met anyone with ITP. It was amazing! To meet other people that have “walked in my shoes”, that understood my fears and frustrations. The connections are immediate, and I hope you will make some of those connections this weekend.

I live in Coral Gables, Florida and was diagnosed with ITP at the age of 4. I have been through so many treatments it is hard to remember them all. But I am still here! I try to enjoy every day. There is so much to love about life. I don’t let ITP define me. I don’t fret over the things that I can’t do (due to the ITP), I look forward to what I can do! A positive outlook always helps!

You will learn a lot this weekend. I always learn something, and I get to see old friends and make new ones. And that is why I keep coming back every year.

I look forward to meeting you too!

Gentle hugs, Barbara Pruitt



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