I was diagnosed with alopecia at age 22, and like any diagnosis that doesn’t have a cure, I was in shock.
I felt hopeless but decided to do hundreds of cortisone shots, but nothing worked. There would always be a new patch. The next option was taking cortisone pills, which have many side effects including liver damage and moon face. I got the latter.
Being the only girl in the family, my mother kept asking, “Why, why my only daughter?” I responded, “Mom if it wasn’t me it would be someone else. Anyone could get this.” I decided to act positively in front of my family. I didn’t want to see the sadness in their eyes and of course, I tried to hide my hair loss from everyone else. Even up to today no one has seen me bald.
I was walking around as a young and enthusiastic new business owner with a moon face and shiny synthetic wig, promoting my new business. You can imagine the sick feeling I was carrying with me every day. Indescribable.
Knowing that my hair will not ever come back, I decided to use my own wig-making experience to create my first wig. I sourced the best European human hair, designed my own cap with no glue or clips. It made me feel so much better.
After all these years I still do not see myself bald. I know the world around us has changed. On Instagram and other social media, people talk openly about it and have 2,000-plus followers and many wigs. I believe hair loss is a personal matter that is not easily put on a platform.
I had the motivation to fight for my health. Having small active boys in Southern California who loved any water activity was my greatest driver. Taking them to private swimming lessons and watching them learn new skills, I found the courage to ask the coach if I could take some lessons too. Even wearing my self-designed wig worked out fine. The swimming lesson gave me my first sign that I had the freedom to do any activity I wanted. I had my life back.
I’ve competed in three triathlons. Six months after my last triathlon, my life changed again. I was diagnosed with cancer resulting in a left breast mastectomy – all while running a successful salon and multiple hair loss centers.
About a month after my mastectomy, while resting after a chemo session, I was spending some time at the beach watching paddle-boarders and paddle-surfers. Even though I was holding on to my chest from the pain of surgery, I had a burning desire to give this a try.
Five years later, while vacationing in Hawaii, I decided to give it a try. Four hours before our flight back to Los Angeles, I had my first paddle-boarding lesson from a local. I shyly told him that I wear a wig and that I feared it would come off. To comfort me, he said, “This is Honolulu and that we’ve seen it all.” I learned to get on the board, get on my knees, stand up, look toward the horizon and paddle forward. I fell in love with the sport.
Fast forward to 2018, I placed first in a paddle-board competition. I train now with my good friend and coach, US gold medalist Candice Appleby. My goal is to paddle to Catalina Island to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and other maladies such as alopecia.
How has it changed my life? I came a long way from the days of sitting on my bathroom floor after a shower, sobbing, looking all around me, and seeing my beautiful long hair falling out.
After my diagnosis, I gave up on many activities. Even a simple family gathering or barbecue event was not fun. The wigs I was wearing were hot and uncomfortable. This is something we hear from many customers.
That affords my clients the freedom to pursue their passions free of fear. They allow an active lifestyle, completely unhindered. How wonderful is this?
By Nazy Curtis, Amani Hair, Newport Beach, CA