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Alopecia becomes source of strength

BY ALLISON WHITEHEAD
OU News Bureau

Hair loss can cause low self-esteem. For Katelyn Yaczik, the journey back to self-confidence took time.

Alopecia causes loss of hair on multiple parts of the body. This is an autoimmune condition, according to The National Alopecia Areata Foundation. For some people, hair can grow back.

Katelyn Yaczik

Yaczik was diagnosed with alopecia when she was 13 years old. She was in middle school at the time. Kids this age were curious about what was happening and would stare at her, making up rumors and jokes about hair loss.

“At that time, alopecia turned my world upside down,” Yaczik said. “School was the hardest part.”

However, it made Yaczik rethink her standards and ideas of beauty. Luckily, her friends stood by her side.

I remember the doctor’s visits and the worry of it all,” said Yaczik’s sister Kristina. “I also remember all the support.”

Now, at 21, Katelyn Yaczik considers alopecia her strength and not a weakness.

“I realized through my struggles for acceptance that you really never know what someone is going through,” Yaczik said. “It has made me a more compassionate person.”

This is one of Yaczik’s three wigs. PHOTO/ALLISON WHITEHEAD

In Yaczik’s family, no one has alopecia. But autoimmune conditions run in her family.

More than 6 million people in the United States are affected by it, according to the foundation.

Through struggles for acceptance, Yaczik had to rebuild herself and her self-confidence.

“I have built up a pride in myself and my condition,” Yaczik said.

Although she is stronger, that doesn’t mean that alopecia doesn’t have an impact on her today.

“Handling this all with a smile and growing from the diagnosis, that to me proves how strong and how truly beautiful of an individual she is,” Kristina Yaczik said.

There are times where strangers will comment on her wig or ask why she is wearing one. While alopecia will always influence her life, she said it wouldn’t hold her back.

The Allen Park resident attends Wayne State University while pursuing a master’s degree in social work. Her goal is to work with others dealing with chronic illnesses.

“I hope to one day conduct research on the mental health impacts of an alopecia diagnosis on young girls,” Yaczik said.

Most alopecia services today are related to cancer. There aren’t many catering to it as a cosmetic condition. The biggest source for this today is the national foundation.

Standards of beauty have changed since Yaczik’s diagnosis.

“I realize that life can change … you really have to embrace the beauty in every day,” Yaczik said.

 

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Posted by on Dec 3 2017. Filed under Featured article, Wayne C.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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