Volunteer Profiles

Conchita Watson

PHA Office Volunteer; Advocacy Volunteer

Conchita Watson Spreads the PH Gospel

Conchita Watson

Six years ago, when Conchita Watson began suffering from shortness of breath and coughing, she wouldn’t have imagined herself involved in politics and volunteerism the way she is today. But since her PH diagnosis three years ago, she has taken those principles to heart. Conchita is one of the PH community’s most active representatives — both on Capitol Hill and in her hometown.

Her dedication to the community and genuine interest in PH patients inspired Conchita to be a representative at a major press briefing at the nation’s Capitol in June 2005, during which she stood as a patient with PH secondary to blood clots, and a patient in the D.C. metropolitan area. She has made a special effort to return to the Capitol on numerous occasions to participate in PHA’s Congressional lobbying events and luncheons.

While Conchita keeps busy encouraging Congress to act on behalf of PH patients, she never takes her eyes off her community. Conchita is a regular at PHA’s Office Volunteer Nights, where she helps staff with a variety of patient-support projects. She frequently attends meetings of the several Mid-Atlantic area support groups and makes the trip to attend PHA’s International Conferences. In her own neighborhood, Conchita “spreads the gospel” of PH awareness everywhere she goes — even at church, where she discovered another member of her congregation who has PH.

Conchita’s activism in the PH community is having an impact on important policy issues, and her concern for patients is making a difference in the day-to-day lives of so many. Even with her sights on big advocacy goals like insurance coverage, Conchita keeps her feet on the ground and her roots in support groups, where she first became involved in 2003 after returning to Maryland from a thromboarterectomy procedure in San Diego, Calif. The companionship she found at the Johns Hopkins Support Group meeting has continued to propel her activity in the community.

“It’s good to meet people and to know their stories,”

she tells us, thinking of the life-long friends she has made over the course of her journey.

“Support groups help a lot.”

She continues to attend the Hopkins meeting because of the friendships she’s formed there, and also attends the Silver Spring group because it’s close to home and she has made fast-friends there as well.

Conchita’s involvement in the PH community and with PHA is doing worlds of good — for herself and for the rest of us — and she encourages everyone to become involved in some way.

“You want to learn as much as you can about this disease that you’re living with, and you want to be able to give support to other people. It can be lonely.”

By getting involved in the PH community and with PHA, Conchita has found the encouragement to make a difference.

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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.