My hair was everywhere, all over the house, my pillow, in my hands – it felt terrifying. My name is Chloe & I have alopecia. In 2016 I went for a smear test. Following the results I had numerous procedures & tests every 12 weeks to include unpredicted infections & complications. This went on for over 2 years. The endless visits & procedures were daunting but with fantastic support & good Doctors I believed I wasn’t stressed & everything was going to be ok.
One day in February 2017 I was getting my hair done when a small coin size bald patch was spotted on the back of my head. This felt like the end of the world to me.. little did I know what was to come. Everything in life was going great I was always a positive person & I had never been happier but the tests & procedures really knocked me back & while I was living in this happy bubble I believe my body was under a lot of stress. My hair began to fall in patches as the tests continued but I was always able to hide it & pretend this wasn’t happening to me. Luckily by September it had all grown back!
That November my hair began to fall out again. This time it was bad. Time stands still when you’re holding clumps of your hair intertwined in your fingers – it feels nauseating. I was so afraid to fall asleep at night because of how much hair would be on my pillow in the morning. By Christmas I was trying on wigs something I never thought would happen but I knew I had to be brave & face it as by now I had lost 75% of my hair & it was only getting worse. The 16th of January 2018 was the day I bought my first wig & also the worst day of my life. This was & is very hard. I would look in the mirror at my balding head & I could no longer see myself, I would put my wig on & couldn’t see myself, I would try everything but I couldn’t see myself so I resorted to not looking in the mirror and eventually not going to work or leaving the house for over a month. I thought I would never be able to recover or feel beautiful ever again.
Going for all the tests I know where I stand, I have a hill to climb & I know there’s another side but with alopecia I don’t know if there is another side & the unknown kills me the most. I have no control & the uncertainty is overwhelming. I have tried everything from creams & shampoos to clinical trial drugs, multiple scalp injections and cabbage stalks (yes I rubbed cabbage stalks on my bald head every day for 7 weeks!) but nothing has worked so far. After seeing several different doctors I was left with only questions and no answers but I have two wonderful doctors Dr.Gehad El-Bastawisy here in Cork & Dr.Russell Vickers in Australia. These two men are the only two who give me hope & hair or no hair I’m just so grateful for hope.
Telling people about this was something I never ever wanted to do. I wanted to pretend forever that this wasn’t happening but telling everyone on a recent ski trip changed how I feel about that. They were all so supportive. The feeling was so powerful, I felt liberated & for the first time in a long time I felt comfortable & being comfortable is a feeling I had forgotten & hugely missed.
I am overwhelmed by people’s kindness in particular my boyfriend Declan who has been my absolute rock & makes me laugh every second of every day. He drove me to & from the hospital & appointments minding me at home & sitting through some tough procedures just to hold my hand, he’s absolutely incredible. My mom who is my best friend & keeps me positive, my dad who is my idol & who I would simply die without, my amazing family who have been phenomenal, Declan’s family who have been so caring to me, the Haly girls, my friends especially the ones that rallied around me; minding me when unwell, crying with me, picking out wigs, coming to appointments, washing my wig, staying the night with me & just being there without any fuss. I’d also be lost without my amazing work colleagues who not only encourage me to stay strong but have even applied treatments onto my bald head. I have such a large network of close friends that I am extremely grateful for especially at times like this.
Please understand I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m looking for relief. Be kind to people because without that huge network of kind people I wouldn’t be here today. I’m turning 26 soon & even though my story doesn’t YET have a happy ending, I know it will. I believe this year is my year. I’m hurt, angry & confused but I don’t spend my day acting like that, in fact from the moment I wake to the moment I sleep I smile…. simply because there is nothing I can do so I might as well enjoy my life & keep spreading the positivity I’ve always tried to spread hair or no hair.