Saturday 10th April 2021

Hope Does Exist: 
Blog by Key Contributor Jacky

 

Have you heard the recent news? a new Harvard study has found a direct link between stress and hair loss and are investigating something to counteract this called GAS6:

“In a mouse study published in the journal Nature, the researchers found that a major stress hormone puts hair follicle stem cells into an extended resting phase, without regenerating the follicle or the hair. The researchers identified the specific cell type and molecule responsible for relaying the stress signal to the stem cells, and showed that this pathway can be potentially targeted to restore hair growth.”

 

Yes…I know I should remain calm and realistic with this discovery and so far, it’s only been found to work in mice, however, excuse me whilst I leap up and down and have a wee moment of sheer joy! Just how utterly amazing would this be?! The study also found that premature greying caused by stress could also be stopped, like magic!

Yes, there are often announcements of new and exciting findings only for things then to stall and go very quiet, perhaps it is due to a lack of funding into this type of research because after all Alopecia is not life threatening. However, us sufferers feel the repercussions of this; how often we have not been able to go out of the front door because of how we feel about our appearance, how often have we frozen with fear as someone stares at our hair or dares to ask “is that a wig?” And when you respond Yes, to be be told “Yeah, I can tell”. How often have we thought I can’t do that job it’s too public facing.

I must say at one point it has played a huge part in my lack of confidence, I was once asked why I had no eyebrows or eyelashes by the secondary school children I was teaching, I mean I totally made up a ridiculous tale and said I had overplucked my eyebrows because that was an actual trend at one bizarre time, pluck them all then draw them back on, crazy.

I purchased a cheery book called “How not to Die” after being diagnosed with Cancer, I can’t possibly do everything in this book and live happily or easily, it’s a bit like having too many rules that end up making you want to not try any of them, I have been trying to live a healthier life though, honestly.

I believe a lot of us have started to become more health conscious during the pandemic and throughout lockdown. I certainly have taken up yoga on a more regular basis and cut out all dairy milk from my diet. I have also purchased products for my head and I have already noticed improvements with my skin and excitingly my head has started to itch, believe me when I write this is a novel development. After 17 years of no hair on my head it also feels odd, those of you with Alopecia Areata will know this feeling well, that unexplainable activity going on, a kind of creeping sensation across the scalp, some describe as snake like, it is something that I have not experienced for a long, long time and I have baby like fluff, fluffy fluff fluff.

I have also enlisted a nutritionist to discuss my diet, hoping they will bust some myths and point me in the right direction, I need to reduce the risk of my cancer returning and help my skin and hopefully my hair to continue to improve, not asking very much of them really…

Ironically though, I have just reached a stage where I feel mostly comfortable within my own skin, a picture I posted in Alopecia UK over the weekend received hundreds of likes and lovely comments, however this is a safe place where everyone is totally supportive, I am no way ready to go public yet but I can feel that I am much closer than ever before.

I recently read a fellow Alopecian saying that the fear in yourself is not real, acceptance is what you need to do to move on and live freely as the person you truly are.

I say that we all have the right to wear what we want, hair/wigs, headwear or clothing, being comfortable is the only category you need to tick.

Perhaps nothing will come of this new discovery, but like Emma Beddington in the Guardian, I still have hopes for a cure.

I have just remembered my guineapig who was so stressed after we moved to a new house, she lost all of her hair, an obvious correlation but her hair came back as quickly as it went, bless wee Pea.

We all need hope and things to look forward to, soon we can breathe freely again, travel freely and maybe dip our toes into some warmer seas.

Never lose your hope xx Jacky