HAIR TODAY – GONE TOMORROW
After 34 years, I have decided that it’s time to publicly share my story of dealing with the auto-immune disease, Alopecia Areata, which causes your hair to fall out. Years ago, this would be a very difficult story to tell as I spent a lot of energy trying to appear “normal” as if I had hair. Today, I am thrilled to say wear my baldness loud and proud! Through sharing, I hope when you are finished reading my story, I may have helped someone suffering from this disease to know they are not alone and advanced the knowledge to people not aware of this disease.
For purposes to those who are not aware of this chronic auto-immune disease, there are several levels ranging from reoccurring patchy bald spots to the universal hair loss, which if you have that your hair typically does not grow back. I suffer from the latter Alopecia Areata Universalis. Go big or go home – right! Fortunately, for me this is a disease that is not life threatening, but, on the other hand is a disease that can be mentally debilitating and life altering. I have in fact been on the receiving end of many of those long probing stares, hurtful statements and frequent concerns that I am suffering from cancer. For obvious reasons, the latter is the most difficult aspect for me to deal with. But as a result of the trials and tribulations, the most joyous aspect is the person I have grown into as a result.
My Alopecia was found when I was 16 years old while on vacation with my family at the beach. My hair was thick and had a beautiful wave to it – every girl’s dream right? The first bald spot was found by my sister, approximately the size of a quarter (which is typical size for the bald spots of this disease.) My bald spots continued to appear and become larger in size. Over the next several years, my parents drove me tirelessly to appointments so that I could try every treatment the doctors (and there were many) could think of including pills, creams, and injections into the scalp (sometimes up to 50 injections per visit). I even was being driven to the Cleveland Clinic and was part of their research project for Alopecia. Most of these medications were some form of steroid, which had unfavorable side effects, and though many of these treatments have worked for other people, they did not work for me. A vivid memory I have is sitting in class while at school running my fingers through my hair and coming away with handfuls of hair without feeling any pain whatsoever. The same was true with my eyelashes and eyebrows. All the while, every day I would go to any length to appear as if nothing was wrong. By my senior year, I was almost completely without hair, gained over 60 lbs. due to the steroids and forced to the point of having to wear a wig. Keep in mind this was 1981, and the advancements in wig making were not where they are today. I began my senior year in high school wearing a short, wavy, brown old lady wig, and I was embarrassed and felt I stuck out like a sore thumb. I am sure my classmates had questions but they never asked. I spent a lot of time being concerned about what if people figured out that I was wearing a wig and what they would do. I felt people were constantly staring at me even if they really were not. That year, I quickly learned who my true friends were, learned how it feels to be different and learned how mean some people can be. I did actually encounter kids that indicated they wanted to rip my hair off in public. When I finished all medications after high school, I made a conscious choice to not continue being involved in research and take what appeared to be unnecessary medications. This was my first step in acceptance of me.
How does one deal with a disease that wreaks havoc not only on your immune system but your who you are- my answer is twofold, love yourself from the inside and have a very good sense of humor! I had the privilege of being raised (my parents have since passed away) not only by two loving and but two whacky parents. At a time in my world when I felt I was the only person who had this disease, they taught me the beauty of laughter and of course not once ever made me feel I looked any different. Being given the gift of laughter has definitely given me a strength has helped me get through uncomfortable and “embarrassing” moments that could only come from wearing a wig. A favorite story of mine is …. Don’t get me wrong, there have been also many times where this disease has been extremely difficult to deal with and the laughter was not present. I have been approached many times by wonderful people out of concern that I am sick with cancer. These are difficult encounters as you can imagine. , but I am fortunate to say that I have a plethora of funny stories which have occurred because of this disease. To this day I still hope that maybe someday my hair will return or maybe I will grow just eyelashes and eyebrows but know that probably is still a dream. I have worked and struggled over many years to build my confidence and be 100% comfortable with myself and free myself from this disease and the unnecessary obligation I have felt to wear a wig in order to feel accepted.
Run Without Hair
Ann Peyton Runs For Bald Girls Do Lunch
Ann Peyton Runs For Alopecia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HARRISBURG, PA SEPTEMBER 25, 2015 – Ann Kennard, owner of Ann Peyton Photography will be running for Alopecia. Bald Girls Do Lunch , the nonprofit organization devoted to Alopecia, is Fjoining Ann in hosting Run Without Hair on Saturday November 28, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. beginning at For Hunter Park and ending at The Federal Tap House. Donations can be made HERE and all proceeds will go toward Bald Girls Do Lunch.
“After 34 years, I have decided that it’s time to publicly share my story. Years ago this would be a very difficult story to tell as I spent a lot of energy trying to appear normal as if I had hair. Today, I am thrilled to say I wear my baldness loud and proud! Through running, I hope when finished I may have helped someone suffering from this disease to know they are not alone and advanced the knowledge to people not aware ofthis disease.” Ann Kennard - Ann Peyton Photography
There are several ways you can participate and help raise funds for this worthy cause.
Donate via Ann Peyton’s online donation website.
Show your support and raise awareness for Alopecia by shopping with Athleta Harrisburg Saturday October 31st and Sunday November 1st. When you shop on those days with Athleta 10% of your sale will go towards Bald Girls Do Lunch.
Show up and show your support for Ann the day of the run. Join her after the run at Federal Taphouse Harrisburg for celebration.
About Bald Girls Do Lunch: Bald Girls Do Lunch is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicating to improving the quality of life for the women today and to inspiring the women of tomorrow living with alopecia areata.
By bringing them together at lunches, dinners and events where they can meet others who are living with autoimmune disease (often for the first time in their lives), we strive to enhance self-esteem, self-confidence and sense of community while also increasing their capacity to effectively manage the various aspects of living with alopecia areata.
Furthermore, we seek to improve the acceptance of bald women nationally and internationally by increasing public awareness, knowledge and understanding of alopecia areata. We educate with resources for coping, talking and answering common questions and concerns.
We foster healthy living with practical tips for talking about alopecia areata and provide real world experiences.
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