Friday, November 4, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

Many years ago, when I was still in high school, I was approached by a woman at a fair. She gave me the look that I am so used to and before she began to talk, I was already preparing myself to tell her "No, it's not cancer. I have Alopecia. Then I would explain what Alopecia is and she would say, "Oh, well, I have a friend/family member/acquaintance that has cancer.....yada yada yada. But this conversation went differently than most had. She asked me if I had Alopecia and told me that her young daughter (who was hiding in the distance) had it too. She explained to me how excited she had been to see me and that she couldn't wait to tell her daughter that we shared this wonderful auto-immune connection. I was so confused! This had NEVER happened before. In the 10ish years that I had been dealing with Alopecia, I had never met anyone who didn't think it was cancer, let alone someone who actually knew what it was like.
The little girl and I struck up a friendship and went to dinner/lunch a few times. She was very shy and very sweet. The last time that I saw her and her mom, she told me that I had been her greatest role model. That before me, she thought that alopecia was something to hide from. I was so proud and touched by these comments. Then I went off to college and we lost contact. I was reminded of her today, when a new co-worker walked up to me with that oh-so familiar look and a "Can I ask you something?". Again, I prepared the usual answers, but again, I was surprised. She too asked if I have Alopecia and when I said yes she told me about her son who also has it.
She too, made comments about how excited she was to talk to her son about me and how I show it off. She talked a lot about the Alopecia conventions that are all over the U.S. and about how much support there is at them. We talked a lot about the lack of support groups here in the northwest, which made me think, once again, of the plans that I have had in the past to get some sort of group together close to home. This is now my goal. I want to help those who struggle with this disease. I want to help them see that it is nothing to be ashamed of and to help educate those "cancer questioners".
For me Alopecia has been a blessing, not a curse and I want to help others see it that way too.

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