• Gillian's Journey

     

    Being Bare with Alopecia to Having Hair with Freedom Wigs

    It's not "just hair" when you don't have hair.

    Childhood

    Age 8

    Growing up I had long, wavy hair, (which was attached to a very hard head if you were to ask my Mom).

     

    At age 8, my Aunt Vanessa took me for a haircut, and the stylist noticed a small bald patch on my head; that was the first time I had ever heard the word "Alopecia Areata".

     

    My mother took me to a dermatologist who explained what it was, but the spot did not get bigger, and I had a lot of hair, so it wasn't noticeable. We soon forgot about it and I didn't have any more spots appear until years later.

     

    ( Photo: Me with my own hair )

    Pre-Teen Years

    Age 11

    When I was 11 years old, I lost my Dad. He died in his sleep unexpectedly, he was 49 years old. I had a difficult time grieving and accepting that he was really gone, for a very long time. I still miss him very much. I believe the shock of this traumatic time in my life may have triggered my auto-immune response with alopecia.

     

    ( Photo: Me, my Mom & my Dad in 2008, 6 months before my Dad passed)

    Freshman Year of High School

    Age 14

    In March 2012, at fourteen and a freshmen in high school, my hair line began receding. By May, the end of my first year of high school, my hair severely thinned and was full of bald spots, and I did my best to disguise them with headbands and powdered hair fibers. Meanwhile, I began receiving corticosteroid injections from the dermatologist.

     

    (Photo: (Jr.-Sr. Prom)

    Sophomore Year

    Age 15

    In the spring of 2013, I decided to shave my head and discontinue the corticosteroid shots. I began wearing a lace-front wig, it did not look as natural as I wanted.

     

    (Photo: Me and my Great Aunt Alyce before going to the Homecoming Dance )

    Age 15

    My Mom spent a lot of money to try to find a decent wig, but we soon realized that "regular" wigs were not made for everyday wear so they didn't last long. Regular wigs were very, hot, itchy and uncomfortable, especially if you are bald!

     

    ( Photo: Me and my horse Gilligan)

    Age 15

    Over the summer, my spots filled in and I returned to school without a wig, but with hair of awkward differing lengths. Just when it seemed that my hair was getting back to normal, 75% of my hair fell out during Thanksgiving break.

     

    (Photo: Me & my biological hair, with my art project, 10th grade)

    Here we go again!

    Age 16

    For the next few months I clipped extensions to the few strands of hair that were left and wore scarfs and hats in an effort to avoid wearing a wig again.

     

    ( Photo: Me and my cousin Dylan one Christmas morning).

    Alopecia Universalis

    Age 16

    This time I not only lost my hair, but I also lost my eyebrows, eyelashes, and all my body hair. I learned that this was called Alopecia Universalis, the rarest form of Alopecia.

     

    My confidence was at an all time low. I didn’t feel pretty, all my wigs would move and shift, and I thought about it constantly.

     

    I had a lot of anxiety every time I went out in public, my biggest fear was that someone would pull my wig off, or it would move it someone touched it.

     

    ( Photo: Me and my best friend Spencer)

     

    Finally Finding Freedom !

    Age 16

    I had done some research on wigs before I had lost all my hair, and I remembered seeing an ad for a silicone vacuum wig that was intriguing.

     

    I returned to my research and found Freedom Vacuum Wigs (aka Cranial Prosthesis). I brought the research to my mom, finally a wig made for bald people who wear a wig everyday, not for fun! We called our local agent Ginny also had alopecia universals, to make an appointment. It was great to meet Ginny, she really "got me" and understood what I was going through. I had ever met anyone who could really understand the way I felt about my hair loss.

     

    I was so excited to be able to order the hair color, wave, density, etc. that would be used for MY FREEDOM vacuum wig!

     

    Bare2Hair: My First Look!

    Age 16

    Fast forward to November of 2013, I received my first Freedom Wig! The hair was long, beautiful, so soft and the cap was so comfortable; but best of all, it was completely secure. After I had it cut and styled, my mom and I both cried tears of joy. This wig was a "game-changer" .

     

    When I say it changed my life, I do not say it lightly; I was able to do the things I loved to do without all the anxiety I had about wearing a wig.

     

    ( Photo: This was the moment I saw myself after the stylist had finished cutting and styling my first Freedom wig)

         

    Freedom =Confidence

    Age 16

    My Freedom Wig was secure and looked more like my natural hair than I could have ever imagined, I felt confident again. I was always strong-willed, and was never too concerned about what others thought. I didn't like to wear the things everyone else was wearing, I was a bit of a rebel. Losing my hair had made me so self-conscience.

     

    I've always known that my confidence should come from inside...not from my outer appearance...but when people would stare and ask questions like "do you have cancer?", I just wanted to run and hide. Fear destroyed my confidence.

     

    The security and beauty of my Freedom Wig restored my confidence. Best of all, I realized that I didn't think about my baldness, every minute of every day the way I did before I found Freedom.

     

    (Photo: A car selfie, the day I got my first Freedom Wig styled.)

         

    My Active Lifestyle

    Age 16-20

    My Freedom vacuum hair piece, allowed me to keep being active. I wasn't afraid to swim, ride horses, drive my convertible, go to Six Flags and ride the roller-coasters, go out on a speed boat or even zip-line through the trees in the mountains.

     

    This is a picture of a Zip-Lining trip with my family. Before I had my Freedom Wig, I would have dreaded having a hot sweaty, stinky wig plastered to my head when I took the helmet off a few hours later!

     

    With my Freedom Wig, sweat doesn't soak into the hair like it does with a regular wig. The Freedom Wig, vacuums to my head with air-permeable silicone which covers the entire inside of the wig, no part of my scalp touches the hair on the wig.

     

    (Photo: Joe ( brother), Joey (fiancé'), Me , Carla & Keith ( my parents).

    Re-Growth!

    Age 20

    During the spring of 2017, my hair started to grow back for the first time in 5 years, and by July, I stopped wearing my wig. My Alopecia Universalis went into remission. I started having steroid shots every month to help with the spots where I had hair loss. Gradually over that summer my eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair came back!

     

    ( Photo: August 1, 2017, at my Mom's birthday dinner)


     

         

    My Hair Finally!

    Age 21

    My hair grew in very dark brown and thick, just like my Dad's use to be.

    It was nice to have my own hair, I knew there was always the possibility that I could lose it again, but I was determined to enjoy it while I had it!

    I managed to keep my bio-hair for almost 2 years, until my last semester of college, then it started thinning again, and I was back to trying toppers, and extensions to cover up the spots.

     

     

    (Photo: My wonderful fiancé Joey )

     


     

         

    College Graduation

    Age 22. Spring 2019

    I graduated from th University of North Georgia in May of 2019, and received my BA in Criminal Justice. I also received my P.O.S.T. certification as a law enforcement officer. My hair was really patchy here, I had been receiving steroid shots, and using Minoxidil but it seemed like the spots just moved around, I call this phase of hair loss, my "what-a mole" phase! It took a lot of colored hairspray and Topik to cover my spots on graduation day!

     

    (Photo: My mom and I celebrating after my graduation! I made my graduation cap in honor of my Dad, he loved Star Trek! )

     


     

         

    Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

    Age 22 Fall 2019

    I lost more than 50% of my hair over the summer so I made the really tough choice to shave. I am fortunate to have my Freedom Vacuum wigs to wear, but I confess that really miss my own hair. I have two new Freedom pieces on order, a short one to wear for work as a police officer, and a long one for my wedding in March!

     

    (Photo: I may have lost my hair but I still have my best friend Spencer, he's bigger and I'm balder.)

     


     

         

    Strength and Courage

    Age 22 October 2019

    My mom has always said I was "strong and courageous", long before I lost my hair. Some days I do not feel like I am either, but I do know that living with Alopecia takes a lot of strength and a lot of courage!

     

    I started my new career as a police officer in June where no one knows I have Alopecia. Funny Story: After I had been riding with my FTO (Field Training Officer) for many weeks, he mentioned that the reason he had white hair was because "he used to have a disease called Alopecia which caused him to loose all of his hair, and when his hair grew back, it grew back white". I told him I understood Alopecia all too well, because I had had it since I was 14. He was completely stunned when I showed him that I was wearing a wig! He had no idea!

     

    My journey will continue , I have two new Freedom wigs on order, one is arriving this month, I can't wait!

     

    There is nothing easy about having Alopecia, if you ever need someone to talk to please send me an email at gillgill@me.com.

     

    Best Wishes,

    Gillian Baker