Sophomore Mackenzie Pruden deals with real life issue.


Stu Dente

Makenzie Pruden poses in cafeteria.

Makenzie Pruden, Staff Writer

There’s a saying “you never know how much you love something until it’s gone”. This statement hit me hardest in 7th grade. Hair is a thing almost everyone takes for granted; I, for sure, know I did. My name is Mackenzie, and I am 1 in 5 million that has alopecia. Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your hair follicles.
I was only in first grade when it all began. My mom was doing my hair when she saw a patch of hair missing. She blamed me for cutting my hair, but I didn’t. We had no idea what was wrong. It took two years of endless, frustrating doctor appointments and some research to realize I had alopecia areata. After being diagnosed, it only got worse.
When I was in seventh grade I lost all of my hair; that was also the year kids got mean. Imagine being 12 years old and being bald. Being accepted by my peers was a constant worry. Fortunately, most people thought I was brave, but there were a few that did not accept me which resulted in me being bullied. They would tear my hats off my head and run away leaving me stuck there crying, trying to cover my head. School became the worse place to be. Attempting to stay home sick became a habit. When that wasn’t successful, I was down in the nurse’s office “sick”. We tried going to the school for help but that did not solve anything. So we turned to option three: a wig.
Getting my first wig in 8th grade made me both super anxious and excited. I remember the building looked like a hospital office and smelled like strong perfume. The lady led us back to where the wigs were kept and instructed us to choose one. My eyes were immediately drawn to the black and red wig in the corner. When I finally put it on, it was like I had hair again. So many emotions swept through me, one being security. I turn to get my mom’s opinion to see her crying. She told me she saw hope. She saw a sense of safety when I put that wig on. To this day I still wear wigs. I have a collection of four different wigs, each donated to me by children with hair loss. They still give me a feeling of hope not many can understand, and until I get my own hair back, I hope to keep that.
The next step in my journey is finding out why I have this condition. As I said, alopecia makes you lose your hair. Most of the time people get it genetically or from stress. It is impossible to contract it or get it from a certain illness. Mine is genetic; I got it from my grandma. To say I cope well with this is an understatement – I struggle almost every single day. Hair is a constant reminder that I can never be like everyone else. It has taken my years to accept. I remember most my life hiding my alopecia from everyone. If someone was doing my hair, I would make sure they avoided all patches. When someone is touching my wig, I always go to the bathroom mirror just to check it’s still in the right place.
Although my self confidence is small I have people who care so much. My best friend Savannah has been there through the ups and downs. She has helped me through this disease, so I think it’s only fair she shares her side of the story.
Savannah’s side: Alopecia. So, my best friend has had alopecia since I met her in 5th grade. She didn’t tell me anything about it until about 7th grade. I honestly didn’t know what to say or think about it. I just felt bad. Well, what else could I do? I was only 12 years old and I never had to think about helping someone with that kind of problem. After she told me, we became better friends. Over the years, I’ve tried my best to help. I’m not sure if I have been a help to her or not, but I do the best I can.
This is most of my story. I want people to realize that it is okay to be different. Yes, it comes with some struggles, but it also comes with its own rewards. Now you know that alopecia isn’t easy, but it’s made me so much stronger.