Hi I’m Katie. I’m a 19 year old, first year university student and I lost all my hair a year ago.

Eleven of my amazing friends from my house at university have volunteered to shave their heads to raise awareness of Alopecia on the 1st March 2019. We’re hoping to raise money for Alopecia UK - a charity that helps provide information and support for both people with Alopecia and for friends and family helping someone through it. It’s a community for people to not feel alone, to understand what’s happening to them and to hopefully come to terms with it, to be happy and comfortable the way they are.

I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata when I was 11. A small, round patch of my hair would fall out and even though no one else could see it, I was so self conscious. It would slowly grow back and then a year or so later another small patch would appear. By the time I was 17 I hadn’t had a patch in over 2 years and I was so happy that I didn’t need to worry about that anymore.

November 2017 I got another patch which was annoying but I decided that it was actually okay, it was only a small bit of hair and it would grow back like it always had. Then after Christmas I noticed another patch and then another and then another. It came out in handfuls every time I touched my hair or washed it, even if I turned too quickly. It was awful to watch it disappear day by day and by February I had almost no hair left. I refused to leave the house without a hat on and I moved every mirror I had so I didn’t have to look at myself.

I reached a breaking point and decided to take control of something I couldn’t, so I shaved the last of my hair off in the middle of February. 2 days after I did, I went travelling for 6 weeks with people I’d never met who had no idea what I looked like before and honestly I don’t think there’s anything I could have done that would have helped more. It gave me time to get used to how I looked and to learn not to care as much about how people reacted.

Personally I’m still working through it. Some days I feel better about it than others and I’m still learning how to love myself like this but it’s who I am and I can’t change it now. The easy acceptance and support of my boyfriend, family and friends made the biggest difference of all.

It is quite rare to see bald women compared to men so it’s understandable that people can be taken aback and not understand at first. I just want more people to talk about it, to understand that not every bald person is going through chemo and to understand this is taking us just as long to get used to as it does for you.
If more people are aware, it becomes more normal and hopefully less devastating when it happens.

Katie Brunsdon