Our Mission

We are dedicated to providing multi-faceted support to patients, families and medical professionals in our community and to leading the advancement of knowledge and research in mast cell diseases through education, advocacy and collaboration.

Our Vision

Transforming lives of patients and families while finding a cure for mast cell diseases. 

History of Organization

The Mast Cell Disease Society, Inc. (TMS) was founded in 1995 by Bill Abbottsmith, Linda Buchheit, Olive Clayson, Iris Dissinger, Bill Hingst, and Joe Palk. At that time very little was known about Mastocytosis, so these pioneering individuals sought to fill a massive void with some answers to their multitude of questions about this rare disease. They found one another through NORD, sheer determination and extensive research.

The first support group meeting was held in Baltimore at the Inner Harbor in 1994 and was attended by Linda Buchheit and Bill Hingst. The second meeting was held the following year at Linda Buchheit’s home in Ohio. Fourteen members attended that year. Little did they know how fruitful their efforts would be and what a lifeline they would become as more and more patients joined each year!

Until 1990 many patients diagnosed with Mastocytosis were given a very grim prognosis. Up until that time, Mastocytosis was not often considered when physicians were making a differential diagnosis, and many cases were completely missed resulting in patient death. At that point, signs of the disease were then discovered on autopsy; however, because so little was known about Mastocytosis, it was presumed that Mastocytosis was one of the causes of death when in fact the patient had often died of other causes, and the Mastocytosis was an incidental finding! On the other hand, more advanced cases of aggressive Mastocytosis were also recognized during post-mortem exams, leading pathologists to identify all forms of Mastocytosis as having a high associated mortality rate. Fortunately, that prognosis has improved as more patients are diagnosed and treated sooner, and more physicians research and treat this disease. Today, we know that pediatric patients have greater than a 75% chance of outgrowing their disease at or before puberty, and adults with indolent systemic mastocytosis can have a near normal life expectancy if they avoid triggers and take their medication!

Our Founding Members

Today’s accomplishments are built on the foundations laid by the early volunteers, and we are grateful for their efforts. TMS is where it is today because of the seeds that they planted in 1994 and in the early years. Below are some of the earliest members, but there have been many more champions who have served their fellow patients and families affected by mastocytosis and mast cell activation diseases by volunteering for TMS. We salute you!

THANK YOU to all of our past board members as they are our strong foundation for all the wonderful and exciting things happening now and in the future for TMS!

Linda Buchheit*

William Hingst*

Joseph Palk*

David Hoover*

Elizabeth Punsalan*

Iris Dissinger*

Bill Abbottsmith*

Olive Clayson*

Jessica Hobart

Ruth Sampson

Joyce McEntire


Stephanie Shaw

Jane Clark

Kathy Favorite

Mishele Cunningham

Kristin Forest

Juanita Anderson

Marcia Gordon

Denise Baun

Regis Park

Emily Tidball

Diana Coleman

Candace VanAuken

Susan Manchester

Cindra Carey

Michael Zorska

Deborah Wallack

Len Levenda

Joan Passmore

Emily Menard

Lisa Kenny

Jody Bachiman

Erin Cunian

Regina Rentz

Wanda Hermann

Lisa Sterling

Sandra Frost

Bill Richers

Ethan Bordeaux

Rachael Zinman


Michelle Kress

Elizabeth Smith

Jim McKee

Karen Curtiss

Stephen Rey

Bonnie Sica

Rita Barlow

Stacy Sheldon

Gail Barbera

Jan Hempstead

Valerie Slee

Founding Board Members

Skip to content