“There is no handbook on this.” Hear Chrissy’s Story

Meet Chrissy! 

Chrissy recently shared her story with us about living with Alopecia Areata for 30 years. She shares openly and honestly about what the journey has looked like for her – and what it might be like for others, too. Read it below!

“I first noticed my Alopecia Areata about 30 years ago.  I was living and working on an island on the Great Barrier Reef at the time.  I had really long hair, and they used to call me “Leilani” because of my curly long hair and the frangipanis I used to wear behind my ear.

My alopecia didn’t worry me much back then, and I ended up living on the islands for about 10 years.

Fast forward to around 2002, and my Alopecia Areata turned into Alopecia Universalis within a short period of time.

So there begins the journey that many of us have taken. 

With complete hair loss comes the exploration of tools to get us through whatever we need.  Synthetic wigs, eyebrow and eyeliner cosmetic tattooing, human hair wigs, beanies, scarves, hats.  Most importantly supportive family and friends.  I dipped my toes in all of these pools.  I wear human hair wigs (Freedom wigs) most of the time so that I can blend into society without always having to be the centre of attention.  When I have my hair-free holidays (giving my wig the day off), I usually wear beautiful scarves and soft bamboo caps with lovely big earrings and clothes that make me feel good, or other times a funky hat or fluffy beanie.

I must admit, I still get butterflies in my tummy leaving my “girl” at home.  I feel very vulnerable and it’s not something I’m 100% into yet, but everyone’s journey is a little different.  What I do know is that it’s a very personal experience of growth and confidence in yourself.  Everyone embraces their alopecia at a different pace.  There is no handbook on this.  No right or wrong … no “do this or do that”.

All we can do is share our tips and tools and see if it helps someone become more comfortable in their own skin.  I wish that I had met someone with alopecia when I was first experiencing total hair loss.  Everything that I have now in my arsenal of confidence I’ve stumbled onto myself.  The soft bamboo caps that I wear under my lovely scarves used to cost me $35 each.  I’ve now sourced lovely soft cotton ones on eBay for around $5.  And op shops are a fantastic source for gorgeous scarves.  I’ve found some gorgeous ones for $2 each.

And I really love wearing my beanies… they’re super soft and I have them in all sorts of colours to suit what I’m wearing.  I started making them when I was living and working in Tasmania, and I travelled around Australia for about 2 years (driving a 1986 Toyota Corolla hatchback – hilarious!) and I made them as I went, stopping at little markets along the way to sell them to get some money for petrol, food and camping fees.  It was an amazing experience.

I mostly wear my beanies in Winter, and especially in bed, because as much as you can put lots of blankets on in Winter, your head still sticks out the top and gets so cold – no hair for insulation.  And beanies can be an amazing fashion accessory – not just a head warmer.

I love sharing my beanies with friends, and also with those going through chemo.  My beanies are lovely and soft, and aren’t at all scratchy on those sensitive beautiful bald scalps.  It’s like a hug for your head 😊 and it gives you those warm fuzzies.”

Do you love beanies too? 

We invite you to join us for the Alice Springs Beanie Festival,
Friday, June 24, 2022 – Monday June 27, 2022!
 
The Festival is a community-based event that brings Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists together to share their cultures and promote handmade textile arts. 
 
AAAF is sponsoring people to take a trip and attend the festival!

To find out information about how you can be sponsored by AAAF to go to the Beanie Festival, email sheridan@aaaf.org.au.

Join Chrissy and other members of the AAAF community and apply for a trip to the Beanie Festival!

Exercise, Alopecia and Wigs – Christine

Christine has Alopecia Universalis and it’s been an emotional journey. Exercise has helped her through it and AAAF is honoured to be able to sponsor her. 

Christine received sponsorship for her exercises classes where she participated in an 8-week challenge despite being nervous about wearing a wig. 

In the process, she embraced her strength and vulnerability, got stronger (inside and out) gained community, acceptance and confidence. 

Christine, we are so proud of you and so grateful you are a part of our community. 

AAAF recognises the importance of exercise and healthy habits in the experience of alopecia and sponsors individuals like Christine to support their journey. 

Dear reader we’d love to support YOU with your healthy habits and challenges. 


Apply for a sponsorship today. 

Isabella’s Alopecia Story

My Name is Isabella. I am 9 years old. I have had Alopecia since I was 3.

I was born with a birth defect called Gastroschisis. This means my organs were outside of my body when I was born and I needed surgery right away to save me.

I have a poor immune system because of this and Hair loss has become one of my main symptoms of this. I see my dermatologist every 3 months. I am currently on different medications to help supress my immune system to help my hair grow which has really helped me.

Sometimes I feel really sad. My Drs think I might be developing LUPUS and I have blood tests once a month. At the moment they can only help with me treat the side affect until we can confirm my diagnosis.  I am tired of having blood tests and taking tablets. 

I always loved Dancing, Dancing makes me feel so happy even if my body is tired. I started Cheer this year. It is fast, and so much fun. I am learning to tumble and have made a lot of friends.

Thank you for reading my story.

In November, Isabella was able to finally compete with her team last weekend at her very first dance competition. Here Mum wrote:

Out of 15 teams competing her team came in 2nd. As I was not allowed in the warm up area her Coach had to take photos for me which I am yet to get form her so once I have gotten these I will forward them on .:)

You can see on her face how much dance just lights her up in every single way. I watched with tears rolling down my face.

Her current treatments are working so well for her we have been able to stop her Chemo after 6 long months and her hair growth is just amazing, We are not at the stage yet where she can braid and do her hair like her friends.

However we can comfortably do low pony tails and where she was completely bald has now tuned into a beautiful fringe.

Isabella is a recipient of the AAAF Sponsorship Program which has allowed her to pursue her dancing (see images below). For more information about the sponsorship program click here.

How Meditation Affects an Anxious/Depressed Mind

Guest post by sponsorship participant Sheridan Ruth.

View the meditation support flyer here.

It’s believed that about 5% of adults worldwide suffer from depression and at least 4% suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Anxiety disorders can affect everything from physical health to social wellbeing. The rates of both of these potentially debilitating mental health conditions are on the rise and, in individuals with alopecia, they’re even more prevalent.

Like alopecia, there is no cure for depression and anxiety. However, these conditions can be treated in a variety of ways, including pharmacologically, with various types of therapy, or with more holistic, alternative treatments. 

Among those holistic and alternative treatments is meditation, which is quickly gaining recognition as a powerful tool for coping with mental health conditions, specifically, anxiety and depression. 

Alopecia, Anxiety and Depression

Although alopecia doesn’t cause mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, these kinds of conditions are more common in individuals with alopecia than in the general population. 

Individuals with alopecia are at an elevated risk for developing anxiety disorders or experiencing a serious depressive episode. There are many reasons this might occur.

Scalp hair is tied up with concepts of beauty, youth, virility, and femininity. Not having scalp hair, then, can feel like a failure to confirm to societal norms regarding physical appearance. It’s therefore unsurprising that individuals with alopecia tend to feel socially rejected.

Hairloss is especially an issue for women. Approximately 40% of women who have alopecia report that it’s caused marital problems and 63% claim that it’s caused career problems. This may be associated with the lower levels of self esteem and poorer body image in individuals with alopecia.

Of course, the loss of hair in and of itself is a loss. For this reason, it’s normal to experience grief. But when that grief persists and comes along with deep sadness and a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, it can quickly move into the realm of depression.

People with alopecia may also experience bullying from external sources. This can further compound the feelings of shame, isolation, and difference that contribute to anxiety and depression.

4 Ways Meditation Affects an Anxious/Depressed Mind

Meditation has a tangible and positive impact on both anxiety and depression. A regular practice can lead to material changes in the brain and its functions. Below are 4 specific ways that meditation affects an anxious or depressed mind.

1. Calming the mind

The DMN consists of different parts of the brains that interact when an individual isn’t focused on the outside world. In other words, this is where out minds go when they’re wandering. It’s where we worry about the future and ruminate about the past. 

An overly active DMN is associated with unhappiness. Indeed, people with depression have a hyperactive DMN. 

But meditation can quiet the DMN and, in turn, reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. In fact, long-term meditators are able to take themselves out of the DMN better than those who do not practice meditation.

2. Regulating Fear, Stress, and Anxiety

The amygdala is the part of the brain that processes fear, stress, and anxiety. This is where our fight or flight response comes from.

Animals also have this part of the brain. Researchers have found that animals who face significant stress and anxiety in their lives are more likely to have a highly developed amygdala. This suggests that there’s a correlation between exposure to fear, stress, and anxiety and a more robust amygdala.

What some research has found is that mindfulness meditation reduces the size of the amygdala. Researchers believe that this is the result of a reduction in stress. 

3. Strengthening the Pre-Frontal Cortex

Meditation not only reduces the size of the fear, stress, and anxiety processor, it also increases the thickness of the pre-frontal cortex. This part of our brain is where “higher order” brain functions originate. That is, this is where our awareness, concentration, and decision-making skills live.

With more meditation, the connections in this part of the brain grow stronger. Individuals become better able to access higher order brain functions, especially in times of stress.

4. Improved Emotional Regulation, Perspective Taking, and Self-Reference

If we’re talking about scientific research into the effects of meditation on the brain, we would be remiss not to mention the work of Harvard-based neuroscientist Sara Lazar. Lazar’s work has shown numerous physical changes to the brain as the result of meditation.

Her work has shown that meditation has the potential to change gray matter concentration, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), and the cerebellum. These areas are related to emotional regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking, which are all areas in which people with depression and anxiety struggle. 

How to Get Started 

Be patient with yourself and recognize that meditation is a practice. It takes time and consistent effort in order to realize the benefits. However, Lazar’s work showed significant changes in the brains of her participants in as little as 8 weeks – so it doesn’t take more than a few months to start seeing changes from a meditation practice.

The most important things to note in terms of where to start have to do with the amount of time you sit, how often you sit, and what resources you use to make meditation enjoyable. For in-depth information on all of these and more, be sure to check out our 5 Tips to Start Meditating article.

Sheridan Ruth shares this information from what she has learned through her meditation practice and studies, sponsored by our Sponsorship Program. If you have a form of Alopecia Areata, are a resident of Australia you could also receive support for your passions and hobbies. Learn more about the sponsorship program here. 

About the author

Sheridan is a world traveler, women’s empowerment advocate, yogi, and Yoga Therapist. She supports women with hair loss to feel more self-acceptance, step into their true power, and radiate confidence. Sheridan supports women at various stages of their journey, who share one common goal – transforming their hair loss journey into a self-empowering, spiritual journey. 

Since losing her hair at 7 years old, Sheridan battled the ups and downs of hair loss for most of her life. Brought to the yoga mat by her own mental health afflictions, Sheridan was once unsure about what to do and where to go, completely disconnected from her reality and her body. Today she is motivated to assist others in moving past their own entrenched traumas and self-confidence issues through the practice of yoga. She accomplishes this through a deep understanding and constant study of the connection between mind and body and uniting the esoteric teachings of this ancient practice with valuable, evidence-based western sciences such as psychology.  

Sheridan has completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certificate in Power Yoga and Healing Sequence and completed a certificate in Yoga Therapy & Yoga Psychology, all while building her women-centered non-profit in Medellin, Colombia. 

She now exclusively serves the hair-loss community, creating safe spaces for her community to dive deep into self-inquiry, reconcile with their bodies, and connect with a sense of grounded confidence. Her calm but energetically powerful teaching style creates a safe and loving space in which to grow and ultimately encourages a better relationship with your physical and spiritual bodies, greater awareness, and a profound sense of self-love. 

http://www.sheridanruth.com

Frankie’s Alopecia Story

My name is Frankie. I am turning 8 in August and I have Alopecia.

My mum noticed a small bald patch in my hair when she was washing it one day in May 2020. Mum accused me of playing with her razor but I hadn’t touched it. Mum watched it for a couple of weeks and since it was getting bigger we went to the doctor. The doctor diagnosed me with Alopecia and prescribed a steroid cream but the bald patch continued to get bigger and more bald patches started. The doctor then sent me to a specialist dermatologist who prescribed prednisolone. This medicine made me feel very emotional and I hated it. What was worse is that the medicine didn’t help either so we decided to stop taking it. Over 6 months most of my hair fell out and I now have Alopecia Totalis.

At the start I didn’t like it and I thought no one would want to be my friend if I was bald. Now I am ok with it. I still have all my friends and no one is mean to me.

Recently I started going to art classes. A sponsorship from the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation has helped me do this. I have made new friends at art classes and everyone treats me the same as they treat everyone else. They help me forgot that I have Alopecia and I feel good.

Alopecia Areata…. It’s life changing

Thank you to Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation for the sponsorship.

Learn more about the sponsorship here.

How to Start Meditating

Guest post by sponsorship participant  Sheridan Ruth

Many people feel that meditation is out of reach for them. And yet, since 2012, the number of people who practice meditation has more than tripled.

Meditation is accessible to everyone, you just have to know how to go about it in a way that promotes the best possible results. That means understanding the general intention of the practice, being kind to yourself as you develop your practice, and finding ways to be consistent, among other things.

If you’re interested in starting a meditation practice, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered 5 tips that will help you get started on the right foot.

1. Use an App

When you’re first starting to meditate, sitting in silence for even two minutes can feel grueling (especially on some days). But there is plenty of help out there to get you started, keep you motivated, and make the most of the time you put away to start developing a practice.

There are apps like Headspace and Calm. These free apps have meditation programs specifically designed for beginners. You can work your way through those programs as your practice grows.

There are also apps like Insight Timer, with thousands of pre-recorded and even live meditations (as well as lectures, programs, and other great audio). Just type “beginner” into the search bar and there are hundreds of meditations to choose from. You can filter by the length of time you want to sit, the type of practice, benefits of the practice, and even origins.

2. Be Consistent

“I can’t meditate” is probably the most common response to the suggestion that someone should start meditating. So accustomed to having a busy mind, many people meet resistance when they try meditating, and they believe that resistance means they can’t meditate.

The key to meditation is recognizing that this is a practice. It’s something you do consistently, something you build on over time. One of the best ways to do that is to be consistent with the time that you carve out for meditation.

Two of the best times to meditate are right after waking up or before bed. Whichever time slot you decide on, try to stick to it as best as possible. However, if you intend on deepening and lengthening your practice in time, then choose a time that will suit that down the road.

3. Start Small

One excellent way to ensure you’re consistent, especially in the beginning when it’s the toughest, is to start small. Instead of attempting a 25 minute silent meditation, start with three to five minutes. 

Anybody can find three to five minutes to put aside in their day, and it’s a lot easier to sit still for that amount of time. This will also help you stay committed to your practice. In fact, a number of behavioral scientists believe that big goals are best accomplished in small steps. 

4. Be Kind

You’re not going to be perfect when you first start out. You likely never will be a perfect meditator, if such a thing even exists.

But like the thoughts and sensations that pass through your mind without judgement while you meditate, practice non-judgement with your practice. Realize that some days will be bad, and some days will be good, but you’ll only reap the benefits if you’re consistent with your practice regardless of those ups and down.

5. Don’t Try to Clear Your Mind

It’s a misconception that meditation and mindfulness are about clearing your mind. Instead, focus on your breath.

Your breath gives you a point to return to when your mind wanders. And your mind will wander… the idea is to redirect your attention back to your focus point (the breath) without judgement or criticism of yourself or that thought, emotion, or sensation.

Over time, your ability to identify when your mind is wandering into places that aren’t useful and return to a focus point will become stronger, and that’s the ultimate purpose of the practice.

More Helpful Tips

Meditation is a practice. It’s something you dedicate yourself to regularly. Along the way, you’re sure to have ups and down, but be kind, consistent, and methodical in your practice and you’ll start to notice the benefits in your everyday life.

And if you’re looking for other tips and resources that will improve the quality of your life, be sure to check our blog regularly for new content. 

About the author

Sheridan is a world traveler, women’s empowerment advocate, yogi, and Yoga Therapist. She supports women with hair loss to feel more self-acceptance, step into their true power, and radiate confidence. Sheridan supports women at various stages of their journey, who share one common goal – transforming their hair loss journey into a self-empowering, spiritual journey. 

Since losing her hair at 7 years old, Sheridan battled the ups and downs of hair loss for most of her life. Brought to the yoga mat by her own mental health afflictions, Sheridan was once unsure about what to do and where to go, completely disconnected from her reality and her body. Today she is motivated to assist others in moving past their own entrenched traumas and self-confidence issues through the practice of yoga. She accomplishes this through a deep understanding and constant study of the connection between mind and body and uniting the esoteric teachings of this ancient practice with valuable, evidence-based western sciences such as psychology.  

Sheridan has completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certificate in Power Yoga and Healing Sequence and completed a certificate in Yoga Therapy & Yoga Psychology, all while building her women-centered non-profit in Medellin, Colombia. 

She now exclusively serves the hair-loss community, creating safe spaces for her community to dive deep into self-inquiry, reconcile with their bodies, and connect with a sense of grounded confidence. Her calm but energetically powerful teaching style creates a safe and loving space in which to grow and ultimately encourages a better relationship with your physical and spiritual bodies, greater awareness, and a profound sense of self-love. 

http://www.sheridanruth.com

Phases of hair growth.

What Are the Phases of Hair Growth?

Every day, the average person loses between 50 and 100 hairs.

That loss is part of the normal hair growth cycle. But when you have alopecia areata (AA), your hair doesn’t follow that same pattern. 

If you have alopecia areata (AA), understanding how hair grows is an important part of understanding your hair loss, treatment, and what regrowth might look like. To help you in this understanding, we’re breaking down the four phases of hair growth.

Let’s have a look at how that works. 

The Four Phases of Hair Growth & Alopecia Areata

Your hair follicles grow and shed hair in a cycle. Each component of that cycle is called a phase, of which there are four.

The cycle begins with the long growing phase, then enters a transitional phase, moves to a resting phase, and finally culminates in a shedding stage, which is when the hair falls out. Then, a new hair begins to grow in the follicle and this starts the cycle all over again. 

The length of these phases varies depending on the individual as well as the region of the body. For the average individual, as many as 100 hairs reach the shedding stage every day and fall out. But when the cycle is disrupted, or the follicle is damaged, it impacts the functioning of these phases and more hair may fall out or hair may fall out more quickly than it can be generated. AA is an example of disordered hair follicle cycling. 

The Anagen Phase

The anagen phase is the long growing phase. It’s called the long growing phase because it can last anywhere from three to five years.

This is when your hair follicle is actively pushing out the hair. That hair continues to grow until it reaches the shedding stage.

Experts believe that it’s this phase that’s interrupted in individuals with AA. It’s believed that the immune system attacks the hair bulb, causes inflammation, and this inflammation leads to anagen arrest. Anagen arrest is a disruption of the growing phase which leads to abnormal loss of anagen hairs.

The Catagen Phase

The catagen phase is a short transitional phase that begins when the anagen phase ends. This phase only lasts approximately 10 days.

During the catagen phase, the hair follicle shrinks which leads to slower hair growth. Nearing the end of this phase, the hair itself will separate from the hair follicle, though it continues to grow and remains in place. 

The Telogen Phase 

The telogen phase is the resting/retaining phase. It usually last about three months.

In his phase, the hair has stopped growing from the follicle. While the hair isn’t quite ready to shed yet, a new hair will begin to form in the follicle.

The Exogen Phase

The final phase of hair growth is the exogen phase, which is the phase in which the hair is shed. This lasts between two and five months.

The exogen phase is sometimes considered an extension of the telogen phase. But it’s this phase wherein the hair is released from the scalp. Washing or brushing your hair usually helps this process.

More Helpful Hair Information

There are four phases of hair growth: the anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen phases. These phases start with the hair follicle pushing out the hair and end with the shedding of the hair. But in individuals with AA, this cycle is thought to be interrupted in the very first phase.

Understanding this process gives you a little more insight into where hair loss occurs and why. And for more helpful hair information like this, be sure to check out our blog regularly.

Kate’s Alopecia Story

I was thrilled to be included in the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) sponsorship program and I have made huge progress towards reaching my goals this year. The winter campdraft carnival saw just one event held before the cold, wet weather set in. At Bundarra Campdraft in the New England region of NSW, I took home first place in the ladies campdraft on board my stallion Roys Niner. It was a convincing win and I couldn’t be more proud to ride such a beautiful horse. Taking out the win means that Roy is now a Novice campdraft horse and we can compete in Novice and Open campdrafts. I also gained points towards the end of year National Finals pointscore for the Australian Bushmans Campdraft & Rodeo Association (ABCRA). My other horses Angel & Evie also had great runs, qualifying for the finals in their events. The only missed out on a place by a few points. I am very proud of them, especially my young mare Angel. 

Soon after we headed to Scone, NSW to compete at the Australian Reined Cowhorse Association (ARCHA) Hackermore Spectacular. I was riding the stallion Roys Niner in the Non-Pro Cowhorse. We had a fabulous weekend making the finals in all events and coming home with several placings. It was our first official cow horse show and we are hooked! The sport is primarily American, however there are new, emerging affiliate clubs hosting events all over Australia. It’s a great sport and really showcases our cattlemen (and women!) skills handling a horse and beast (another name for a cow). Everyone thinks the stallion Roy is just SO handsome and we make new friends wherever we go! Sometimes people ask me about my alopecia out of curiosity. Otherwise, you generally can’t tell because I always wear a cowboy hat or riding helmet. Sometimes people will tell me their young family member or friend has alopecia. I think I have a list of kids that want to meet me and get a photo with me! Its crazy! That’s one of the reasons why I don’t wear a wig – I think if a child or teenager sees me confidently walking around with my little bald head, maybe I can inspire them to do the same!? 

Its spring time here which means breeding season is well underway. We are getting a few mares to our beautiful stallion Roys Niner. He certainly knows its breeding season and he would rather be checking on his mares than training with me! He is very sassy and full of himself. After breeding season he will go back into training and we are aiming to go to a few local campdrafts in October and the ARCHA National Finals in Scone in November. I will use my sponsorship to pay for entry fees, for which I am so grateful. It means I can afford to get to more events and travel further, hopefully collecting points for the end of year National standings. 

We are looking forward to events getting underway again in spring. In the meantime I will continue doing lessons with my cow horse trainer Tony Ernst in Tamworth. Training with Tony has really paid dividends and my horses have been going better than ever and I am gaining confidence as a trainer and competitor.   

Thankyou very much to the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) for your support, I am honoured to be involved in the sponsorship program. 

Christine’s Alopecia Story

Mum told me I often developed small bald spots on my head from time to time when I was school age. They would stick around for a little while and then the hair would grow back.

I had so much hair back then – so thick and so long it never bothered me. I would whip it up into a ponytail, bun or braid and wouldn’t let it get in the way of whatever I was busy doing at the time.

When I was 32 years old, I fell pregnant with my first child. I started losing the hair from the nape of my neck and it slowly moved higher up my scalp. I was able to hide it easily by pulling my hair back in a low pony or bun. I thought my body must have been under strain with being pregnant. I was told by friends and family that I must be stressed. I wasn’t too concerned about it. I was busy preparing to birth my first beautiful baby.

I delivered my baby – we were both healthy and well. I breastfed her for 13 months and during this time the hair loss continued. It worsened, creeping further up the back of my head and then around the top crown around my forehead. I went to the GP for review who told me it was normal hair loss that occurs during pregnancy and breastfeeding and that it would grow back.

Shortly after I stopped breastfeeding, I fell pregnant for a second time and all my hair grew back. I’ve heard people say pregnancy has a protective effect on your hair, making it fuller, shiny, and thicker. This is exactly what happened with me

I delivered my second baby – again, we were both healthy and well. I breastfeed for another 13 months. My hair loss started again, from the nape of my neck, moving slowly up the back of my head. And then again from the crown of my head, around my forehead. I went back to the GP and requested a Dermatology referral. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. There wasn’t much the Dermatologist could do for me because I was breastfeeding. I was limited with medications that I could take. I was prescribed some low dose steroid creams to use on the bald parts, along with some Minoxidil. This didn’t help. When I finished breastfeeding the door opened for me to try some other things to see if they might help my hair grow back. I commenced regular steroid injections into my bald spots which my Dermatologist would provide. I would try hard not to cry in pain as my tiny children watched on wandering what Mummy was doing each time we went back to visit the Dermatologist. The injections didn’t help. My hair loss continued. I had several blood tests – all came back fine. The next option was to try a long course of oral steroids to see if this might help. It helped a little, I grew a small amount of hair, but I didn’t regain all my hair like I had hoped. As a result, I gained several other things instead including more kg’s to my weight from an increased appetite and a decreased metabolism, troubles sleeping and a few other annoying side effects. As soon as we started to wean me off the oral steroids my hair loss worsened. My Dermatologist suggested recommencing oral steroids. I decided against this. My thoughts at this time were ‘what will be, will be’. It’s only my hair and the perspective of having two little people to raise in this life far outweighed the importance of my worsening hair loss. 

However, my hair loss continued, I would find clumps in the shower drain, on my pillow and in my hairbrush. It was getting harder to hide the bad spots. I was having to become more creative by investing in hats and scarves. At this point I was exhausted with mothering two small children, waking several times every night, and keeping me busy during the day. I was also starting to become more anxious about my worsening hair loss. I couldn’t seem to shift the weight I had put on from the long course of oral steroids I had been on, so I decided it was time to get back into some exercise. I joined Mum’s on A Mission. A group of personal trainers providing outdoor fitness classes where you can bring your kids along with you. This was around 3 and half years ago and I haven’t looked back. The changes to my physical and emotional wellbeing have been profound. Thanks to the generosity and support of AAAF’s sponsorship program I look forward to sharing with you the changes and impact this has had on my life, my Alopecia journey and physical and mental wellbeing. TBC.

Christine is a recipient of the AAAF sponsorship. You can also apply here

Alex Alopecia Story

Alex is one of the 2021 recipients of our Sponsorship Program and we are so proud of his wonderful story! Read his alopecia story below.

Hi, my name is Alex.  I am eight years old and I have had alopecia forever (Mum says I was one when I started to lose my hair).  I used to have no hair on my head when I was two and I loved wearing beanies in winter.  My favourite beanie was a strawberry one but then we met a really nice friend who knitted me a frog beanie.  Frogs are my favourite animal so that’s my favourite beanie now.  When I had no hair, people often looked at me a lot and thought I was sick.  But I’m not sick, I just have alopecia.  

Ever since I was a little kid, I have liked figuring out how things work.  Even before I could walk, I used to like spinning the wheels on bikes, toy prams and cars and watching what happened.  I also love the sandpit and play in it for hours, building great tunnels, waterways, towers and bridges.  My Dad is an engineer and I want to be an engineer too.  When I was in kindy, my favourite thing to do was play with the water course and design channels that let me control the flow of water.  My hair started to grow back then, when I was in kindy, so I began to grow it long.  My hair is really long now and I am trying to grow it long enough to donate it to wigs for kids so kids with no hair can have long hair too.  I still have to make sure I put suncream on my patches when I go out, or wear a hat.  

I’ve always loved engineering.  That’s why I want to go to the engineering class and learn how to build the best bridges.  I think having alopecia makes me really lucky because I get to do engineering classes. One day, I’m going to be a great engineer.

Alex’s Update:

This sponsorship has come at the perfect time.  Alex is beginning to lose more and more patches and it’s quite prominent on the top of his head now.  In the past, Alex has seemingly not been affected emotionally or psychologically by his alopecia areata.  He’s always taken it in his stride and lived like it was never an issue, which I don’t think it has been for him.   But this time, it really is having an impact.  Lots more people are asking him why he’s losing his hair and he finds he’s having to explain quite frequently.  It’s also a constant reminder of what’s happening.  Alex absolutely loves his long hair and it’s tough-going right now. 

Having access to this amazing engineering program, which is the love of his life – really gives him something to focus on and look forward to.  It’s only been running two weeks but he’s already built the Sydney Harbour Bridge – pretty impressive feat!  He’s been really enjoying working alongside the small group of boys,  learning about bridge structures and how to make sure they don’t fall down.  Next week, he’ll begin building the Story Bridge – Brisbane’s own.  It’ll be great to get out and go for a bike ride under the bridge to compare the real deal to his model.

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