We at FundMyTravel love what our platform helps individuals accomplish in their lives. Some campaigners create campaigns to travel the world in order to experience new cultures and to find out more about themselves, others want to study abroad for a semester or year, and some want to volunteer abroad and help where their skills are needed. Today we are sharing with you an interview with one of our campaigner’s who’s dream is to travel to Orlando, Florida in order to help learn more about and bring more awareness to the disorder called ITP. 

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Katie Meloy, I am 21 years old and from a small city in England called York. I’m your average day to day person: I like socialising with my friends and family, eating out and traveling. The only difference is, I have a blood disorder called ITP.

2. What is ITP?
ITP stands for Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (try saying that out loud three times). It is a rare, auto-immune and blood disorder. Basically, my body for unknown reasons does not have enough platelets (clotting agents) to clot my blood. I bruise easily and bleed spontaneously and excessively when I cut myself. There are different types of ITP, acute and chronic. Acute ITP normally resolves itself without treatment however, Chronic ITP is more troublesome. There is no cure for ITP, only treatments that can lead to remissions, such as steroids, chemotherapy and other immune suppressant drugs. 

3. When did you find out you had ITP?
I was diagnosed with ITP on the 15th January 2015. I began noticing little red dots all over my skin whilst at work one day. They got worse throughout the day and when I got home I noticed a bruise easily the size of a large orange on my thigh. I was becoming concerned I was having a allergic reaction to something. It wasn’t until the following morning when I woke up with large blood blisters all over my lips that I became very alarmed and went to the doctors. The doctor sent me straight to hospital where I was admitted with a platelet count of 2,000 (normal range is 150,000-400,000) and diagnosed with ITP. I had never heard of ITP, I did not know anyone with ITP and my GP had never treated anyone with ITP.

To be diagnosed with Chronic ITP you must have low counts for 6 months. In my case, it’s difficult to know what type of ITP I have because I would not respond to medication at first, and my counts would drop dramatically once temporarily raised. Normally in acute patients once treatment starts, counts stay up. Fortunately I am now in remission. I have had ‘normal’ stable counts for 7 months. There is a 80% chance I will relapse in the next 9 months, however my fingers are firmly crossed and I have my positive thinking hat tightly fitted!

4. What have you done to bring awareness to ITP?
When I got diagnosed I made it my mission to raise awareness for ITP. I tried to find as many people as I could that also had ITP via social media sites. Many people I have met with ITP struggle to find a treatment that works for them, or feel they are misunderstood by others around them because of the lack of knowledge and awareness. With the help of these people, I was able to create a short ITP awareness video to be posted online to help educate more people about the disorder, and help people to understand the complications, worry and isolation it can cause. I have been in contact with local radio stations and newspapers to try and help create awareness locally, and recently raised £450 at work doing a fundraising event for the ITP Support Association.

5. Why have you created a FundMyTravel Campaign?
Many people I meet online with ITP are from the U.S, which is home to the PDSA (platelet disorder support association). The PDSA hold a annual convention where patients have the opportunity to meet leading ITP specialists and other sufferers in a 3 day event. It is my dream to travel to America and meet the people that have helped me to create my awareness video, and hopefully share more awareness! It will allow me to gain more information about the disorder and will hopefully open more fundraising opportunities and doors to creating awareness. A close friend told me about FundMyTravel, and I thought it was a brilliant opportunity to try and make my dream a reality!

6. A lot of campaigners want to create a campaign video for their page. You have a wonderful video that really shares your message. How did you create your campaign video?
I had the idea for the video while scrolling through social media sites. Someone had created a video simply flicking through pieces of paper to tell a story. I thought it was a great idea and started planning my own. I got  in contact with everyone I knew of with ITP and asked if they would be interested in helping me create awareness, it took a few weeks, a lot of patience, and lots of watching, editing and re-watching again. But I finally finished the video and it was better than I could have ever imagined!

7. What have you done to spread the word about your campaign?
Social media is a life saver in terms of creating awareness and getting your voice heard. I have shared my campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and have asked close family and friends to also share my campaign. I also have a online blog called memyselfanditp.wordpress.com which I try to keep updated regularly. It allows me to thank the people that help, and share my ideas and feelings, awareness and campaign.

8. Will you be doing any offline fundraising in order to reach your goal? If so, what?
I have recently completed a ‘Sea-to-Sea for ITP’ fundraising event at work to raise money for the ITP Support Association. Me and my work colleagues cycled 240 miles on a exercise bike, which is the equivalent of cycling from the East Coast to the West Coast of England and back again. In total we raised £450. I hope to organise some more events in the near future to help my campaign and also raise some money for the PDSA in America!

9. What was the most difficult part about creating your campaign?
The most difficult hurdle when creating my campaign was within myself. I don’t like the idea of asking for help, especially by people I do not know. I hate receiving sympathy as I often feel underserving of it. I have ITP, it does not have me. Despite the problematic side of the disorder, I could have it worse. However, I live by the moto; ‘Embrace the Inevitable’. By creating this campaign I am allowing myself to embrace my illness, to open the door and lay the first stepping stones to reaching my dream. Once I had persuaded myself, the rest was easy!

10. A lot of FundMyTravel users find it hard to stay motivated throughout their campaign. What do you plan to do to keep the momentum of your campaign going?
I think it is always difficult to keep momentum going in any campaign. Reposting the campaign or thanking people publicly on social media sites is a good way to keep the momentum going. People may notice it and forget about it, however reposting reminds people, and keeps them interested and more likely to donate and help. Progress is always exciting and is a personal motivation too.

11. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I would like to thank FundMyTravel for their help with the campaign and giving me the opportunity to participate in their blog. The more awareness we can create for ITP, the closer we get to finding a cure! Thank you for your help and giving me the opportunity to make my trip possible.

Thank you Katie for sharing your story with us and the FundMyTravel community.

Check out Katie’s FundMyTravel campaign here: