Hello everyone,

September marks the 15th birthday of Alopecia UK and I am taking part in a fundraising challenge to raise funds, awareness and ultimately, help anyone who is currently effected by this life changing disease. I will be doing 15 social media posts to raise awareness and will also be running a minimum of 15 miles over the month of September.

This is a big step for me personally, having previously been effected by Alopecia Areata, I haven’t ever shared my story with anyone other than very close family and friends. But today and for the rest of September, I am being very brave and have signed up to be an ‘Alopecia UK Birthday Champion’ in order to help this amazing charity continue with the great work they are doing in recognition of their 15th birthday! So, here is my story.

In October 2012 one Saturday afternoon I noticed an unusual bald patch on the crown of my head. I was shocked. I phoned my mum as I had no idea what it might be. I later on showed my bald patch to my then boyfriend (now husband) and being the protective man he is, he encouraged me to book an appointment with a hair specialist in London who later confirmed that I had Alopecia Areata. We both left the appointment with a positive attitude and tried to focus on the fact that the patch seemed quite small and that it would hopefully grow back. Little did I know that I was about to experience this autoimmune disease spiral out of control.

As you will see from some of my photos I am sharing on my social media, I had a long aggressive experience with Alopecia Areata, approximately 2 years until it began to calm down and then about another year until it was gone. Whilst it’s not a life threatening disease, it is most certainly life changing.

There are a lot of things I could say about how I felt during this pretty challenging time but the main things I will always remember were the extreme emotions I faced in coping with the fact that I was losing my hair, general negative thoughts, a feeling of being so out of control of what this disease would do next and a fear of it never going away. My mental health was not in a good place. On the flip side, during this specific 2 years, I got engaged, was doing well at work, I got married and got pregnant, so I had a lot of good things to be happy about. I am almost sure that it was the birth of my beautiful first born son, Lewis, that was my saving grace. He gave me something so pure and meaningful to focus on and I knew when he was born that nothing else mattered to me.

I am thankful that I am a lucky one, my hair did grow back fully, every single bit. I don’t think the fear of it returning will ever fully go away, but, I am thankful that I am healthy in all other areas.

Whilst everyone’s Alopecia journey will be different, I hope, that by sharing my experience with you today, it may reach out to someone that is dealing with or knows someone coping with Alopecia Areata and it may give them some positivity and encouragement that in many cases, your hair does grow back.

It would mean so much to me for your support in raising funds for Alopecia UK and will ultimately help all of the women, men, children and their parents who are currently effected by the life changing disease. They are absolute heroes.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Xxx Samantha Slade