‘Oh my God! There’s another one here!’ I thought she was just mocking me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.’: Single teen mom raises awareness about alopecia, ‘You are not alone’

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“My name is June, and I am 25 years of age. I am from the Philippines, but I live here in Melbourne, Australia now. I am a single parent of a beautiful 6-year-old girl.

A single mother kisses her young daughter on the lips
Courtesy of June Bitalac

I was only 18 years old when I had my daughter. My life has been tough since I became a mom. I’ve been through a lot, even the worst. I was only in Grade 11 when I got pregnant,  and I had to stop studying as my tummy was getting obvious. You know, to avoid being bullied and getting judged by the people around me. I was also working at the time, but I had to stop everything because my pregnancy required my full attention.

I felt like my world had stopped. It was very hard for me because I was too young. I did not expect it, and my parents especially didn’t expect it. My dad has always had extremely really high expectations for me, and I just disappointed each and every one of them. I felt like I disappointed everyone, including myself.

But one day, when I was scrolling down on my Facebook feed, I saw this quote saying, ‘When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’ I was really inspired by it. And since then, it has changed the way I look at things.

My daughter became a reason for me to keep going. She became my purpose. She’s the reason why I’m still here in this world fighting the challenges and struggles of life. The reason why I’m this strong and motivated after everything I’ve been through. And recently, that strength helped me deal with another challenge in my life.

A single mother holds her daughter in a polar bear chair
Courtesy of June Bitalac

About 2 months ago when I was on duty, I went to the toilet to fix my hair. I was so shocked when I looked at myself in the mirror: I saw a small bald patch on the left side of my head just above my forehead, about the size of a dollar coin. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How had it happened? When did it happen? Was I sick? I had a lot of questions in my head at that time.

A woman with alopecia shows a bald spot on her forehead
Courtesy of June Bitalac

So when I got home after work, I asked my sister-in-law if she could check my whole head to see if there were more bald patches around my head. My sister-in-law was also shocked when she found there was another one just above my neck. I couldn’t forget her reaction. She was like, ‘Oh my God! There’s another one here! And it’s larger than the other one. You should get it checked out ASAP!’

A woman with alopecia displays a large bald spot on the back of her head
Courtesy of June Bitalac

At first, I thought she was just mocking me or messing around with me, but when I saw the photo she took to show me, I was shocked. I went speechless. I didn’t know how to react. But deep down, it frightened me and made me sad at the same time.

So I went to my doctor, and I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata.

When my doctor told me about my condition, I had no idea what it was.

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Several factors affect it, and there is no known cure apart from anti-inflammatory modulators through steroids.

When I found out about Alopecia Areata, I got so scared. ‘What if one day I will lose all my hair?’ I thought. I was worried because since I was diagnosed with alopecia, I have noticed every day I’m losing a bunch of strands. And every day the bald patches are getting larger and larger.

A woman with alopecia shows a bald spot on the top of her head
Courtesy of June Bitalac

When my doctor told me about alopecia, I got so scared. I was thinking, ‘What if I lose all of my hair? What if I can’t hide it? What if people make fun of me if they see me with these bald patches?’

My hair is a big part of who I am, but I know now there’s a possibility I will lose all my hair one day. But I also know having these bald patches or having a bald head won’t define who I am. Even if I will lose all of my hair one day, I know I will still look beautiful.

We all have imperfections, but always remember they’re not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. We are all different in our own ways. In fact, our imperfections don’t define us. Imperfections are what make us, us.

A single mother with alopecia stands by a bridge
Courtesy of June Bitalac

I know I’ll get through this. This is just nothing compared to those people who don’t have enough food to eat or a place to stay. I’m grateful I can still buy food and afford the things I want. And I’m grateful I still have work and a comfy place to stay. And most importantly, I’m blessed I still have family and friends beside me who support me in every way they can, especially when they found out about my condition.

A lot of them sent me some positive and encouraging messages. I was surprised because some of them told me they’re also going through the same thing, but they were scared to tell anybody because they’re scared people will make fun of them. It was sooo overwhelming.

So if you’re going through the same thing, you are not alone. I see you. I feel you.

A single mother with alopecia stands on a bridge in front of the Sydney Opera House
Courtesy of June Bitalac

Just always remember to look after yourself and your health all the time. Don’t mind other people who have stressed you out. Just keep those people who always share their positive energy in your life.

We are all different, unique, and beautiful in our own ways.

Always always remember that.

And being different doesn’t make you any less of a person.

Keep fighting, and keep moving forward.

Be positive, be brave, and be your own kind of beautiful!”

A woman stands on a bridge in front of cliffs and water
Courtesy of June Bitalac

This story was submitted toLove What Mattersby June Bitalac of Melbourne, Australia. You can follow her journey on  Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories like this here:

‘I’ll only play if you take your wig off.’ I was shocked and hurt. I let her bully me in my own house.’: Woman advocates for girls with alopecia, ‘Bald is beautiful’

‘My life was out of control. I drank as much as possible to escape. ‘Why is this happening to me?’ I only had half of my hair left, but I couldn’t give up.’: Woman with alopecia takes back her life, ‘I made myself a priority’

‘People will think you have cancer if you wear a headscarf.’ I lost half my hair in 3 months.’: Woman with alopecia embraces baldness

‘If I don’t act now, something much worse will happen.’ I locked myself in the bathroom and shaved my head.’: Woman with alopecia says ‘I feel beautiful’

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