Did you know that September is National Alopecia Awareness Month?
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, alopecia is a common autoimmune skin disease, causing hair loss on the scalp, face and sometimes on other areas of the body. The disease affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S. with a lifetime risk of 2.1%.
People of all ages, both sexes and all ethnic groups can develop alopecia. It often first appears during childhood and can be different for everyone who has it. Megan Holbrook, Office Specialist with Sylvester Family Practice, was diagnosed with alopecia areata at the age of 19.
“I was diagnosed with alopecia at a visit with my dermatologist. I had very thick hair and noticed something was different. Like most people, I wasn’t familiar with alopecia. There are three stages of the disease: alopecia areata, where you lose hair in patches, then alopecia totalis, where all hair on the scalp is lost. The third stage is alopecia universalis, where all hair on the body is lost,” Megan says.
Megan lived with the first stage of alopecia until about two months before her 30th birthday. She said, “At that point, I completely skipped the second phase, and began to experience the universalis stage and lost all body hair. I made the decision to shave my head, and since then, I haven’t shared anything about my journey.”
Megan was recently inspired to by a local woman who also has alopecia. This woman shared her story and journey with Megan, and especially how she embraces life without a wig. “My goal from the beginning was to go without my wig with confidence. This woman embodies this confidence and more! She gave me the courage to post a photo of myself without my wig on Facebook,” said Megan. Since then, Megan has inspired many others who are experiencing a similar situation, whether it is alopecia, cancer, or any person who is just not feeling confident in themself. “You never know what people are struggling with. I was happy to be able to shed some light on this disease and also provide hope to anyone who may be having self-confidence issues. I believe that whatever you are faced with, you can get through it with the right attitude. God didn’t give me this condition to hide behind. He knew I was strong enough to share my story and spread awareness.”
Even Megan’s co-workers have been affected by her positive attitude and willingness to share her story. "Megan has been such an inspiration to all of us in Sylvester with her struggles, acceptance and bravery to put her story out there," says Karen Spooner, Clinical Outreach Manager for TRHS. "She has such a passion to help others who may be silently struggling with this disease. She is a beautiful girl with a beautiful story."
To learn more about alopecia and help Megan spread awareness of this disease, visit https://www.naaf.org/.