BALD IS BEAUTIFUL! These are the words I repeat to myself at the start of each day. As simple as this sounds, it hasn’t always been easy. Diagnosed with Alopecia Areata at the age of thirteen was one of the most difficult times in my life. Through this journey I have learned many lessons. By sharing some of my experiences, I hope to encourage and help others with similar challenges.
1980 - I sat in the dirt with my softball glove covering my bare head. I never wanted to get up again. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my teammates gathered around me. One of them handed me my baseball hat which had my wig stuffed in it. The rest of my teammates began to silently circle me with their support and encouragement.
It was my sophomore year of high school and I had just been pulled up to the varsity softball team. I was excited to have something positive happen to me this year. The last two years had been a struggle battling the loss of my hair. Playing on the high school softball team had given me something else to focus on and I loved that.
Before the game, I grabbed my team hat and secured it tightly on my head. I was faithful about this ritual, because I thought it would keep my wig from coming off. I quickly learned how wrong I was.
The game started and my coach put me at third base. I was thrilled to have this opportunity, but nervous at the same time. All went well until the fourth inning when my worst nightmare occurred. At the crack of the bat, the ball raced toward me. I was in position and kept reminding myself to stay down on the ball. In a split second, the ball unexpectedly changed direction, bounced off my wrist, hit the bill of my cap, and landed behind me, along with my cap and hair. I immediately took off my glove and covered my bald head like a hat.
When the girls surrounded me, I learned what true teammates were. I didn’t know these girls very well, but in that moment, I felt more support from them than I’d ever experienced before. They gave me my hat and reassured me no one had noticed. I adjusted my hair and cap and finished the game. As the opposing team shook my hand, many of them asked if my forehead was ok. My teammates had been right. No one knew what had transpired. Trying to play it off, I rubbed my head and said I was fine.
I don’t remember if my team won or lost, but I do remember feeling like a true winner that day. I learned that anyone can go through tough times, but with the support of others, the difficult journey becomes a lot easier.