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!
Cathy (ITP Warrior) and Raul (ITP Spouse) Aldama
Hometown: Laguna Niguel, CA
ITP Warrior & ITP Spouse since: 2006
Cathy: My family; and new travel adventures.
Raul: Today will be a great day if I let it be.
ITP Survival Tip:
Cathy: 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:
Cathy: hard to pick just one...so, 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.
Hometown: Manitowoc, Wisconsin
ITP Warrior since: 1983
Daily inspiration: Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. Once a year travel someplace you’ve never been before, or pretend and just plan a trip, even if you never go. You learn so much while you dream of distant lands and read about different places and people.
ITP Survival tip: Learn how to advocate for yourself. Be kind to yourself, if treatments fail. Try not to second guess a past treatment decision, accept a failure and move on. Keep hope alive! Rest, meditate and listen to your body. Be kind to yourself and others, give back.
Favorite thing about ITP Conference: What I like most about the conference is knowing we’re not alone and the opportunity to learn enough information about ITP, so that we can advocate for ourselves, without feeling like we’re stupid. Knowledge is power!
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
ITP Warrior since: 2011
Daily Inspiration: My family
ITP Survival Tip: Never let ITP define who you are.
Favorite thing about ITP Conference: Spending time with all of my fellow ITP warriors and hearing their stories.
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.
Hometown: Montreal, QC, Canada
ITP Warrior since: 2004
Daily Inspiration: Using my own experiences to help other patients with ITP is what motivates me every day. I will not rest until there is more research, more awareness and more support for this important cause.
ITP Survival Tip: Never let ITP stop you from doing what you love or achieving your goals! Having ITP is what inspired me to pursue medicine as a career so I can continue helping other patients. There are always ways to overcome even our greatest obstacles!
Favorite thing about ITP Conference: Getting to see all of the amazing people that make PDSA such a great support organization. I love seeing familiar faces year after year, but also getting to know new patients and learning about their ITP journey.
Hometown: Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
ITP Warrior since: 2010
Daily Inspiration: Adversity pushes us to do things in life we would have never imagined we could do. Now I look for opportunities to get our word out on behalf of those who can’t – any way, anyone, anywhere, anytime.
ITP Survival Tip: It is important that we do not let this condition be everything about us. We have to take care of ourselves and keep out of harm's way. But life is still about the pursuit of dreams – never let them go!
Favorite thing about ITP Conference: Over eight years, I have seen the faces of first time conference and regional meeting attendees (in three countries) who find out there are so many other REAL people on this journey and support is everywhere. You will never be alone again.
Dawn (ITP Mom) and John (ITP Warrior) Phillips
Hometown: Elk Grove, CA
ITP Mom & ITP Warrior since: March 2014 when John was diagnosed and we have been raising awareness ever since.
Dawn: My son is an inspiration to me because he has been through so much and has come through it all a better person that is literally helping to save people's lives by encouraging donations of blood and blood products wherever he goes. He has had 530 donations in his name so far, simply amazing.
John: The look on people's faces when I share my story and they decide they want to start donating blood, platelets, or plasma.
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: Make time to take care of yourself.
Favorite thing about ITP Conference:
Dawn: I just love the staff, they have welcomed us like family members and are always supportive and looking out for things that might benefit us.
John: Knowing that I am not alone in my battle and talking with people who know exactly how I feel.
Hometown: Coral Gables, FL
ITP Warrior since: Fall 1961 - I have had ITP for almost my whole life.
Daily Inspiration: What motivates me to keep going? I don't know anything different. As I have gotten older, and maybe wiser, I feel that God isn't finished with me yet. I still have work to do here. I feel that helping others navigate the turbulent waters of ITP is my honor, and I am happy to do so.
ITP Survival Tip: When someone is diagnosed with ITP, I advise them to not focus solely on the platelet count number. That it is important to consider how you are living with a low platelet count. What are your symptoms? Do you have active bleeding? Petechiae? Are you bruising more or less? And how is the treatment affecting you? Your doctor needs to consider all of these issues before recommending a change in treatment.
Favorite thing about ITP Conference: the feeling of "kindred spirits" among the ITP patients. We know what it is like to walk in each other's shoes. No explanations needed. And for the weekend we are surrounded by people who care about ITP patients and want to make their journey easier. When I leave the conference each year I always feel loved, like I've been given a BIG hug!
Hometown: Norwalk, CT
ITP Warrior since: 1995-ish
Daily Inspiration: My love of life and people.
ITP Survival Tip: Don't focus on the numbers. Symptoms are much more important and for goodness sake, don't panic over changes of a few thousand. Platelet counts fluctuate normally.
Favorite thing about ITP Conference: Connecting with people who understand and having access to the greatest ITP doctors and latest information.
Hometown: Mahtomedi, MN
ITP Warrior since: 2015
Daily Inspiration: Seeing world and culture changes.
ITP Survival Tip: Get your rest and continue to do normal things!
Favorite thing about ITP Conference: Getting together with the ITP family.