My Alopecia Story
Defining who I am - Bald, Brave, and Beautiful!
Hi, my name is Sophia Isabella del Rosario. While at school, I'm Sophia, at home, they call me Bella.
This is my alopecia story.
In July 2008, my mom noticed patches of my hair had fallen out and raised concern with my grandmother. She assured my mom it was normal. She had known children that experienced the same thing and said, "It will grow back.” Two months passed and more hair, and in bigger patches were gone, to the point where my mom said "Something doesn’t look right". She decided to take me to the doctor where he confirmed I had.
After battling the pros and cons, my parents decided to shave my head a couple of months before my 3rd birthday. They didn't want me to freak out, so they also shaved my brother‘s head and my dad's head. For the next three years, my parents continued to consult with top dermatologists from UCLA, Kaiser and even Children's Hospital, that prescribed me different topical medicine, with no success. A couple of times, my parents were excited to feel hair growing back, but after two weeks, it would disappear.
How family deals with it.
In the beginning, I think my parents took it harder than I did, since I was probably too young to take it all in. My mom bought me all the hats. She even got creative by making me the most beautiful headbands.
One of the hardest experiences was when my brother and I were playing at a park in Los Angeles. My parents overheard a boy telling his mom to look at me. His mom took a glance and said, "stay away from her, she is sick". Of course, this cut our playing time short because my parents were too upset when they heard what happened. My mom had to stop my dad from getting angry. I remember my dad saying: “Some people can be so insensitive, so ignorant and it's sad to hear what they teach their kids.” It's completely opposite from what my parents teach us. They taught us to be kind, loving and caring to others. People constantly mistook me for a cancer patient, and I count my blessings for having alopecia instead.
Where I get my strength and courage.
I've been blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who have loved, encouraged, and supported me all my life. Ever since I was diagnosed with alopecia, my mom and dad prepared me to be comfortable in my own skin. They didn't just tell me I was beautiful, but they made me feel it. They instilled in me the confidence to know who I am and what I stand for, to distinguish between right and wrong, to show love and kindness in everything I do, and to always give people a reason to smile. I have been bullied, called all the names you can think of, and these lessons have given me the strength to deal with kids who weren’t always nice. They’ve made me a stronger person.
I guess, you can say, sometimes, being different can make all the difference!