Children in a Norfolk town have been inspired to raise money for people whose hair loss
has been caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata
after a local shopkeeper with the condition spoke to students about it.
Kim Starling, who sports a completely bald head, so moved the students after her talk during which she explained how she woke up one morning and found that she had lost almost a third of her hair overnight that they embarked on a fundraising campaign.
All remaining hair lost
According to the Eastern Daily Press
newspaper, Ms Starling, who runs a greengrocers and florist in Fakenham, lost all of her remaining hair in the month that followed the initial overnight shedding eyebrows and eyelashes included. This is synonymous with the condition Alopecia Universalis
, which is a severe form of Alopecia Areata that leads to total hair loss all over the head and body.
Ms Starling told the newspaper: "I will never forget the day it happened, as it was so dramatic. It had been an incredibly busy time at work with a lot of stress
, so I was really expecting to go to the doctor and to be told it was curable with treatment."
She quickly discovered to her dismay, however, that little can be done to alleviate the symptoms. Unlike treatment for Alopecia Areata
- when the hair loss is of the scalp-only, patchy type Alopecia Universalis and its sister condition Alopecia Totalis (which is identical save for the fact that only the head and facial hair are affected), still evade the best efforts of doctors. This may hopefully change soon thanks to various trials
that are taking place around the world into JAK inhibitor drugs and modified versions
of these. Continues below...
While clearly upset about the sudden change in her appearance people who lose that hair to any autoimmune alopecia
phenotype frequently say that it greatly affects their sense of identity
Ms Starling adopted a very positive approach towards the disease. She says that she decided she would accept that her hair was unlikely to grow back, and that she would make the most things. "There is nothing worse than the agony of hope that's what keeps you awake at night," she told the newspaper, adding that people actually don't pay as much attention to a bald head as might be imagined.
Clearly impressed by the way in which this popular local shopkeeper had dealt with what could have been an extraordinary setback, children at the nearby Sheringham High School set out to raise funds for the charity Alopecia UK
. In doing so, they also managed to demonstrate what a fun place their school is: the school council raised almost £2,000 thanks to a talent show, a teachers' football tournament, a lip-sync battle and even a 'man versus food' eating competition. Ms Starling described their efforts as "incredible".
So visible are the effects of Alopecia Areata that many individuals and organisations feel compelled to get behind causes that benefit those who have been diagnosed. Among them are Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who recently donated a 7-inch length of her hair
to charity most likely Little Princess Trust, which makes real hair wigs for children who have lost theirs to medical hairloss, including that caused by cancer treatment and alopecia.