September is the awareness month for both of the causes closest to my heart! Suicide Prevention AND Alopecia Awareness! Visit www.naaf.org for more info and click here to read our daughter’s story of Alopecia Areata entitled “A Smile Big Enough To Cover The Pain”.

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e of @authenticiteespeaks

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© Ericka Arthur and authenticitee speaks, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ericka Arthur and authenticitee speaks with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Welcome to Day 8 of #TheLoveLetterProject Writing Challenge created by Marie of The Notion Of Love! If you’re just joining me, you can catch up on the rules here!

Day 8

To The Girl With The Beautiful Faith

We often overlook the most poignant demonstrations of faith because they are seemingly simple. But it’s childlike faith that begins at conception then bellows the loudest when manifested; no matter the age.

To the mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, siblings, elders, midwives, sisters, friends, classmates, lovers, life givers, caregivers and voices of the village that told the girl with the beautiful faith that being different was her superpower- thank you.

To the girl with the beautiful faith,

Though you may or may not choose to acknowledge a power higher than your determination; you exude a courage that faith cannot deny. Keep walking with your head held high, for you encourage millions that they too can kiss the sky. Thank you.

Meet Sarah McDaniel

Meet Winnie Harlow

Meet Khoudia Diop

Meet Kiaya Janel

Meet Connie Chiu

Meet Shalom Blac

Meet Alopecia Amy

Meet Jillian Mercado

Meet Hülya Durmaz

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

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Remember YOU MATTER!

© Ericka Arthur and authenticitee speaks, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ericka Arthur and authenticitee speaks with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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Blessings!💫e of @authenticiteespeaks

Host of the Inspiration With E Radio Show
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Remember YOU MATTER!

© Ericka Arthur and authenticitee speaks, 2015, 2016, 2017 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ericka Arthur and authenticitee speaks with appropriate and specific direction to the original content


I’ve been wearing blue lipstick at times and with pretty good reason!

I shared in this space a couple of years ago, about our then 10 yr old daughter’s battle with sudden hair loss as a result of Alopecia. Blue is the awareness color for the condition and our daughter; now a 15 yr old HS student, shares her story every chance she gets.

She’s courageous. Courageous because no one would ever have to know. See she was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata where there are patches of hair loss. Her remaining hair is thick so depending on the hairstyle, bald spots can be hidden. But now she’s getting older and experimenting with different hairstyles so newly formed bald spots are visible. As a creative being, she’s discovered that blue lipgloss and strategically painting only one nail blue; sparks a conversation she’s ready to have.

I never shared photos of the bald spots on her scalp. Not only because they were the size of the palm of my hand, it was just too overwhelming to do so. The hair loss…it seemed to happen overnight.

LIFE BEFORE ALOPECIA AREATA…

PONYTAILS AND BEHIND HER EARS…

Sometimes You See It..

AND SOMETIMES YOU DON’T…

Our Daughter And Son February 2017…

It’s been difficult when I watch her struggling with her hair. I want to jump in and help her figure out the parts; literally and figuratively – but I would be doing her a disservice at this stage of her development. She talks about going away to college one day and wanting to “feel comfortable doing her hair without Mommy’s help”. As a parent however, it’s painful to watch her sweep up piles of hair after washing or combing it. But even with that going on behind closed doors, she still has a full head of hair. This has served as a tempting deterrent to be silent and understandably so. Either classmates did not understand because they couldn’t see her condition and the monthly scalp injections; or she had serious tinges of survivors guilt about the hair she did have. After all we are taught to not judge books by their cover…but we all have at one time or another, wouldn’t you say

As a matter of fact, I came across an article years ago written by Ohio journalist Jona Ison raising awareness about her son’s Alopecia Universalis. She said strangers would pay for her son’s meal at restaurants because they assumed he was a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. Attempting to seize those moments as teaching opportunities to educate others often ended in frustration. Kind strangers mistook her response as a modest refusal of their generosity and wouldn’t hear another word.

I remember reaching out to her back then because it was all so new for us and she was extremely gracious. I credit Jona’s bold transparency coupled with God’s undergirding, in empowering me to do the same.  
Listen. We all have something.

To this day, I’m accused of lazily slouching and having horrible posture. The accusation of having horrible posture is correct, but the reason is scoliosis; something else God decided that I should genetically pass a hint of to our daughter as well!😉

Though she is determined to help raise awareness, there are those who will never see her as a person dealing with hair loss or qualified to discuss it. Those who in their smug haste would ignorantly deem our determination to raise awareness as a cry for unmerited pity. But we are not alone. Afterall, there are those who will never see you as a person dealing with any type of loss…simply because of how well you wear your survival too.

Would you consider sharing this post? There are several ways to do it just by clicking the various social media icons below. Maybe we can help someone else today who may think they’re the only one dealing with invisible loss.

Little do they know….

💙

e
I wear blue for our daughter. You can find her story in the piece shared with her permission called “A Smile Big Enough To Cover The Pain“. To connect with the National Alopecia Areata Foundation visit http://www.naaf.org.
Blog | http://www.authenticiteespeaks.com

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Remember YOU MATTER!

© Ericka Arthur and authenticitee speaks, 2015, 2016, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ericka Arthur and authenticitee speaks with appropriate and specific direction to the original content
Photo Credits – Ericka Arthur


SEPTEMBER IS ALOPECIA AWARENESS MONTH

Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles causing hair loss.

I wear blue for our daughter. You can find her story in the piece shared with her permission called “A Smile Big Enough To Cover The Pain“.

To connect with the National Alopecia Areata Foundation visit http://www.naaf.org

Honored to raise awareness…💙e

A Smile Big Enough to Cover the Pain

*Though September is Alopecia Awareness Month, those who suffer hair loss, deal with it year round. A personal and passionate determination fuels our 13 year old’s desire to raise awareness. I share her story, with her permission.

 


While doing her hair for fifth grade picture day in November 2012, I noticed that the texture of her thick, natural hair was quickly changing. We chalked it up to possible environmental factors such as the hot, dry climate we were still adjusting to as fairly recent transplants from the East Coast. We even considered the possibility of our little girl growing up and braced ourselves for developmental changes as she drew closer to her tweens. I then began to notice alarming breakage and incredible amounts of hair shedding that wouldn’t respond to anything I tried. From whispered prayers of concern to every natural remedy I stumbled across online. I was determined to find the answer without letting her know what I saw from where I stood, comb in hand and weary.


Within a matter of days, I noticed a small round patch about the size of a nickel on one side of her scalp and another patch on the nape of her neck. I peered at her scalp completely baffled having ruled out ringworm. It happened literally, overnight. My discovery prompted a call to the pediatrician who instantly diagnosed it, “Alopecia Areata…she needs to be seen by a dermatologist”.


Alo what?”, I said when my husband repeated the diagnosis. “Alopecia” he said. “We need to find a dermatologist”.

 

A dermatologist? Time is of the essence however we’re still relatively new to the region. I became consumed with searching for a dermatologist that our baby girl would feel comfortable seeing. Someone that wouldn’t echo the stares, sentiments and unwelcomed touch of those fascinated with or offended by her huge Afro.

 

My whispered prayers of concern quickly became unstifled cries of desperation unto the LORD and unto the LORD only. Children always take their cue from their parents, so I couldn’t let her see my fear. Soon thereafter our prayers were answered when we learned of an African-American female dermatologist who was extremely patient and compassionate. We were unaware however, that our daughter’s visit would also be the first of many that included steroid scalp injections she would endure, in an attempt to impede and hopefully eradicate the hair loss. Over time, the small patches of hair that were once the size of a nickel began to expand, one as large as the palm of my hand. It was extremely difficult and disheartening to do her hair with her crying, her scalp still sensitive from the injections. The parts in her hairstyles were uneven and her Afro lopsided, in an attempt to hide the hair loss. I remember asking God to help me know how to style her hair so that it looked nice and she wouldn’t feel self conscious. She was only 10 going on 11 and kids can be so mean. She was already dealing with being teased about her Afro and natural hair. There weren’t any classmates that looked like her…


If it wasn’t other cultures in awe and touching her hair without her permission, it was our culture launching verbal attacks such as, “You need to comb that thing”. It was very overwhelming at times….for all of us. She longed to tell her peers why she had to leave class early for monthly Dr. appointments but found out very quickly that children weren’t the best secret keepers. As a result she continued to suffer in silence, periodically pouring out her heart to God, my husband, her little brother and I.


So what is it? Alopecia is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system sees hair as bacteria that must be fought, resulting in aggressive hair loss. It is a non-life threatening condition that only affects a small percentage of the population. There are several types ranging from Areata (patches of hair loss) to Areata Universalis (loss of all scalp and body hair including nose hairs which acts as a barrier from pollutants). Children and adults with Areata Universalis are often mistaken as Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy thus reinforcing the stigma and increasing the lack of awareness.


Now 13 yrs. old, our daughter recently found her voice and for the first time, has begun to talk about Alopecia to her friends within the past year.  She seized the opportunity this past September during Alopecia Awareness Month to wear a blue ribbon symbolizing support. She fielded questions about her new blue accessory as it peaked the curiosity of her peers. She also sent informational texts to those closest to her, letting them know it was Alopecia Awareness Month


In spite of being quite vocal about her cause, she found herself in a bit of quandary. Though she dealt with hair loss, she didn’t look like what she had been through. The thickness of her remaining natural hair managed to cover what she had experienced. She didn’t fit in with those who had visible patches or even suffered total hair loss; and the kids who had a full head of hair…didn’t have a clue.

 

Isn’t that just like us? Between our secret struggles and secret sins? Some issues and “uh-ohs” are more obvious to the naked eye than others. Someone confides in you about their marital issues not realizing your marriage has fallen apart. Another shares their woes about a wayward child having no idea that you don’t know where your child is. Then, there are those who constantly talk about their financial struggles or even ask you for money because they insist you are sitting on a gold mine. They don’t know that you’re facing eviction/foreclosure and/or repossession. Lastly you tire of those crying to you about their abortion, miscarriage or high risk pregnancy not realizing that if you could just get pregnant at least once after years of trying, you could have the same complaint. The only difference between you and them is your smile is big enough to cover the pain. So you’re surrounded by people who can’t relate or have no clue…that you can.

 

God looks at us all the same. Whether your smile is big enough to cover what you’re going through or you can’t muster up the energy to smile another day, GOD IS WITH YOU!  God says to you, ‘I know all, I see all, you are not alone. I’m with you. Hair or no hair. Feeling invincible or invisible, it matters not. I love you. I know all about you and still want you…just as you are! 


Others may not be able to handle what you’ve survived or may even be currently enduring, but God can handle it. It may not be the time to share your story, but one day you may need to, in order to set someone else free. Find your voice in Him so you can speak life and testify, to people around you. Who is it within your sphere of influence that God has assigned to your caseload? Don’t let them slip away in quiet desperation thinking no one understood their plight.

 

Our first born miracle (I was barren for the first four years of my marriage) has courageously helped bring awareness to Alopecia in her own way and now it’s your turn…


Be blessed beyond measure and strengthened for the journey,



e

 

 

*The National Alopecia Areata Foundation(www.naaf.org) is a great resource however be sure to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and all medical inquiries.




© Ericka Arthur and authenticitee2015
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ericka Arthur and authenticitee with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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