In 1985, I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata and was 9 years old. It all began when I was at the hair salon and my stylist noticed two small bald patches on either side of my head. She hadn’t seen anything like that before, and my mom and she started thinking about all of the things that could potentially cause hair loss. Our ideas ranged from too much vitamin C, to ring worm and everything in between. Luckily, mom is also a nurse and she took me to an excellent Children’s Hospital. It was there we learned about Alopecia Areata.
We quickly found NAAF (National Alopecia Areata Foundation) and I attended their annual conference in Washington DC the following year. It was there I realized that I was not alone.
I had Areata (spots) for quite some time. In middle school, I lost quite a bit and felt the need to wear wigs. I purchased my first piece out of a catalog. Needless to say THAT wasn’t a great experience.
In college, my Areata turned into Totalis (loss of all scalp hair) which included the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes over a span of just 4 months. And that is when I let something pretty terrible happen…at 20 years old, I STOPPED living life. I avoided things that I knew I would be uncomfortable doing – whether it be going to the beach, taking a boat trip, sitting outside at a restaurant – because all of these things would have been very uncomfortable in a traditional hairpiece. It was a terribly insecure state that I was living in. And whenever I looked into the mirror, the person staring back at me was NOT me.
But then I remembered something. When I was at the NAAF conference at the age of 9, I met a woman there. She was sitting on the stairs of the hotel and appeared to be waiting for someone. She had gorgeous long hair, beautiful lashes and brows and was just striking in every way. She reminded me of Brooke Shields – who in my book, was the most beautiful woman in the world. (I know I’m dating myself a bit here!)
In a bold move for a very reserved and insecure 9 year old, I went over and told her that I thought she was beautiful. And what she said back to me rendered me speechless. “I’m just like you, sweetie. I have Alopecia Universalis and wear a vacuum wig, false eyelashes and I pencil in my eyebrows.”
So fast forward to the insecure, broken 20 year old with Totalis…and I reminded myself of that woman from 11 years ago. I had to TAKE CONTROL . I needed to find a solution that would allow me to live again and be as confident and secure as that woman appeared to me to be.
Mom and I then went out looking for that elusive vacuum wig. We found Debbi Fuller (one of the East Coast Freedom Agents), who had Alopecia just like me. She was an integral part of getting me to a much better place. Her care, empathy and understanding helped me at a time that I was at my most vulnerable.
And when it arrived…I can’t quite articulate what wearing a Freedom piece did for me. To say that it was life changing just sounds so cliche. It literally put my hair loss on the back burner. I no longer thought about it every second of every day. I started living again. It simply, ROCKED MY WORLD.
I’ve been wearing the Freedom piece for almost 20 years now. Needless to say, it was and continues to be life changing AND it allows me the ultimate freedom to LIVE life exactly as I see fit. My goal now is to help as many as I can – those who are just like me – looking to lead a life that is FULL and WITHOUT restriction.
I hold an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Tufts University and a Master’s in Communications from the University of Texas-Austin. I am the proud mom of two kiddos who amaze and inspire me each and every day. We live in Round Rock, Texas just 15 minutes northeast of Austin.