Tuesday, 18 August 2015

My Friend

(Written at the request of said friend.....)

I have an amazing, brave, beautiful friend who was diagnosed with alopecia in 1988. For those not in the know, alopecia is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system mistakenly starts to attack your hair follicles.

She was originally diagnosed with Alopecia Areata in 1988, in which her hair was falling out in patches or circles, but a few years later, developed Alopecia Totalis and lost all the hair on her head. In the last 8 years, it has progressed to Alopecia Universalis, which means that her entire body is affected, down to the last eyelash or arm hair.

There is so, so much more to her than her hair, of course- her wicked sense of humor, generous spirit, and incredible smile are so powerful that were she to take off the wig, you'd barely bat an eye.

But women, from childhood onwards, see our hair as our crowning glory; central to our look, our style, even our identity. Alopecia is an incredibly devastating disease, and it can be so hard to come to terms with it.

Henna Heals helps women do just that. It started as a small organization in Toronto, and has since become a worldwide network of artists creating henna crowns to help women cope with hair loss due to alopecia, cancer treatment, and other diseases.

My friend got her crown yesterday. When I saw the picture, my heart sang. The incredible art, the love that went into it, and the smile on her face brought me to tears.

Not everyone knows she has alopecia- she's never been 100% comfortable discussing it, and there is only a select group of people who have seen her without her hair. Part of her also worries about embarrassing anyone by 'going public'. But with the help of henna artist Reeshma Premji, and armed with the knowledge that today's world is about embracing our differences and doing what is best for you without being judged, she's doing it now.

She was beautiful last week.

She was lovely yesterday. 

But today, Sherry is exquisite.

And I am so, so proud of her.