Diagnosed at age 4, Barbara Pruitt reflects on the challenges, celebrates the triumphs and looks to a bright and hopeful future for people with ITP.
As Barbara Pruitt stood greeting new attendees at ITP Conference 2018 she was introduced to a couple intrigued by the details of how she manages the disease. “You live with a platelet count under 10,000,” exclaimed the attendee, “I can’t even begin to imagine how you do it!” Barbara smiled, shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I’ve had ITP since I was four. It’s all I’ve ever known.” In living a lifetime with the disease, Barbara has certainly seen the outlook for people living with ITP change.
“I didn’t know anything was wrong,” Barbara recalls, “but my mother was really worried about all of these black bruises I had.” Growing up with three brothers, Barbara’s mother questioned the older two about fighting with their sister, but a visit to the doctor revealed what, back then, was called thrombocytopenia. In the 1960’s, along with the diagnosis came one therapy to treat ITP - steroids. “It was hard, there were severe side-effects – weight gain, water retention and sleepless nights,” she said and after three years of trying to control the disease with steroids, Barbara’s parents and hematologist decided it may be time to try removing her spleen.