Advocates for IHhS
Sharing hyperhidrosis information and experiences is crucial to helping to remove sweat-related stigma and to improving access to treatments and support. The following volunteers have made a special commitment to advocating for hyperhidrosis awareness, treatment, and support on behalf of the International Hyperhidrosis Society. We’re grateful for their work and delighted for you to get to know them.
Wendy Burke has been helping advocate for hyperhidrosis sufferers since the early 2000's, when she appeared on Good Morning America to talk about her extreme sweating and to receive hyperhidrosis Botox treatment on live TV. She was in her 20's, and had been sweating excessively her entire life. “I remember being in kindergarten, sitting on the carpet during circle time, and one of my classmates noticing my hand was sweating.” She says, “He proceeded to laugh at me and share his discovery with everybody else. I locked myself in the bathroom for hours because I knew at that moment that I was different. And I couldn’t control it.” That was in the late 1970's when no one ever talked about hyperhidrosis. After a lifelong struggle with her condition, Wendy now works with IHhS to advocate for effective treatments without debilitating side effects. “There truly, truly has to be a better answer out there,” she says and hopes that the work she, the IHhS, and other advocates are doing will help future generations of sufferers to have an easier journey. Wendy is also passionate about bringing hyperhidrosis education to elementary schools in order to help prevent sweat-related bullying, and to remind children that there’s hope for treatment. Most recently, Wendy served as a patient panelist at IHhS’ Patient-Focused Drug Development meeting; sharing her story with honesty and earnest. Wendy lives in Norfolk, VA, where she is a school administrator (and former teacher.) In her free time, she’s training for a marathon and loves reading.
Dawn M. Cerrone
Dawn Cerrone is a Program Manager in Technology Transformation for AT&T. She is also President of the Colorado Chapter of Advocates for Women in Tech, Vice President of Community Outreach for Women of AT&T’s Colorado Chapter, and Vice President of the virtual global chapter of Ability (Advocates for Disabilities). Dawn’s advocacy work for the International Hyperhidrosis Society is focused within AT&T, where she works with the corporation’s employee groups and committees to raise hyperhidrosis (Hh) awareness and champion appropriate sweat-related job accommodations -- an important mission given that AT&T has 237,734 employees around the globe (and since Hh affects 4.8% of the population, AT&T could easily have 11,500 employees living with excessive sweating.) “I love partnering with IHhS and all that the society brings to the table," says Dawn, "like their willingness to jump in and support any effort that raises Hh awareness. Their leadership inspires me to be a better advocate.” Dawn is passionate about empowerment and advocacy, especially among young people who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She believes that nothing should hold STEM-loving kids back, not even hyperhidrosis. “I look forward to the day when Hh is as commonly known and understood as peanut allergies, melanoma, psoriasis, and autism,” she says, who has hyperhidrosis herself and who is grandmother to grandchildren who also have hyperhidosis. In her free time, Dawn enjoys hiking (she’s training to climb Kilimanjaro), biking, kayaking, skiing, and reading, which is perfect because she divides her time between two great places for outdoor fun – Boulder and Woodland Park, CO.
Maria Thomas, BA CPhT
Maria Thomas is an unstoppable hyperhidrosis advocate. In 2011, after participating as a patient volunteer at an International Hyperhidrosis Society physician education session, Maria was inspired to launch her personal blog,“My Life as a Puddle,” where she shares her first-person struggles and triumphs to empower and encourage others to live — and share — their truth even in the face of adversity.
“The IHhS changed my life,” says Maria, “and gave me the courage to use my sweaty voice. I am honored to be involved with such an esteemed organization that brings help and hope to people all over the world who are suffering from hyperhidrosis. As the leaders in excessive sweating, the IHhS breaks ground for hyperhidrosis awareness and more treatment options and I love helping with that. When one person is empowered, he or she can change the world, but together, we can do even more.”
Through her blog and advocacy, Maria facilitates awareness of the resources, opportunities and support offered by the IHhS. Having had excessive sweating her entire life, Maria sees herself as a hyperhidrosis survivor and self-respect trailblazer. Maria is a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Media Studies. She works full-time as a Marketing Coordinator and lives in Colorado. In 2017, Maria was awarded “Who’s Next in Education” by the Greeley Tribune for her work educating others about hyperhidrosis. Later the same year we invited her to share her hyperhidrosis story as a panelist speaker at IHhS’s Patient-Focused Drug Development Meeting (PFDD) on hyperhidrosis. She is proud to also be a WEGO Health Patient Leader.
Sophia Wastler, MS.Ed
For nearly 15 years, Sophia Wastler has been one of the International Hyperhidrosis Society's (IHhS) most active patient advocates. Helping to spread the word about the importance of recognizing and treating excessive sweating, Sophia attends conferences, continuing medical education (CME) seminars, and other events to share her own hyperhidrosis story and to encourage others with the condition to find help.
"I can personally attest to the tremendous impact that hyperhidrosis treatment has had in my life," says Sophia. "Some people may think: 'It's only sweat.' But having your palms literally drip hinders many, if not all, of your social and physical interactions; from meeting new people to playing sports." Before getting hyperhidrosis therapy, Sophia felt like her life was dictated by the severity of her excessive sweating symptoms. But, she says, "Once my hyperhidrosis was treated, I was free to step out from the shadows and participate fully in life." Sophia credits her successful hyperhidrosis treatment to the information and support she received from the IHhS.
Among Sophia's favorite IHhS projects so far has been the Know Sweat in School campaign."It was gratifying knowing that through the distribution of educational materials someone suffering with excessive sweating would know they aren't alone and treatment is available." As a patient advocate, Sophia also helps create press releases, directs the work of other volunteers, and encourages friends and family to use SmileAmazon.com when they shop to support the IHhS.
Sophia lives in Virginia, and has her Master in Movement Science degree from Old Dominion University's College of Education. After serving as a teacher in Virginia Beach, she founded The Starz Program, which is a children's enrichment program that specializes in fitness. Starz is now a franchise, and has owners operating their own programs across the United States.
Sophia believes we are here to help one another and no one should suffer alone. There are numerous resources and support available; just take the step and reach out. The IHhS was there for me and together we will be there for you!