“But let your adorning (beauty) be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
“In June of 2017, I noticed a dime size bald spot on the top of my head. I had been dealing with a scalp irritation that turned into a staph infection on my head for approximately 9 months. After taking an antibiotic that finally cleared up the infection, I started losing my hair. The next couple months to follow, my hair was coming out by the handful. Washing my hair and taking a shower was a very emotionally stressful experience, seeing my hair clog the drain each time.
For the first couple months when my hair started thinning and falling out by the hands full, I was able to strategically pin it back and hide the bald patches, but within 2 1/2 months after discovering the initial bald spot the size of a nickel, I couldn’t cover it anymore. I privately messaged several of my closer friends from church, asking for their prayer support. A few days later I made a Facebook post, telling what was happening and that I was suffering from alopecia. There were no indications of any other severe health problems, and I thank the Lord for that.”
When Colleen announced her alopecia publicly to Facebook friends, she felt like a huge weight had been lifted.
“I received so much encouragement, prayers, and kind comments from so many family, friends, and co-workers. Carrying that burden in private and trying to hide it was more burdensome than the hair loss was.”
Colleen decided that it was time to get a wig, as she could no longer strategically cover the bald patches on her head.
“My husband and I traveled out of town for our nephew’s wedding. My hair loss was looking pretty bad. The following weekend I was supposed to play piano for a wedding. I knew I needed to pursue getting a wig. I went to our local cancer center, where they have a salon, and tried on a few different ones. This was all so foreign to me and probably a low point. Around that same time, a friend gave me the name of someone she knew who had gone through the same situation of total hair loss in the past year. I was able to contact her and she was a great blessing She was able to comfort me because of her own suffering she had walked thru. This was reassurance again of how a burden shared is lightened. We are not meant to be an island or walk through life’s journeys by ourselves. God created us to be relational, and He showed me that.
This friend referred me to another salon a couple hours away, which specializes in fitting people for wigs. This is where I was first introduced to my first Raquel Welch wig. It was such good quality and made me feel so much better to finally have some good hair! I have since purchased several more through Wigs.com. The Lord has been so good to me and I have come to accept this new way of life.”
Colleen is incredibly at seeing the good in life and the positive things that bring her joy. To her, this journey has gifted her with blessings she may not have foreseen in the beginning.
“I have alopecia universalis, meaning I lost all the hair on my body. What started as a scalp irritation triggered a much bigger reaction. I have realized that God has given me the gift of TIME! It is much quicker to get ready in the morning! Always having good looking hair is a blessing. I also don’t have to shave, which is another awesome bonus!
The worst part of not having any hair is losing my eyelashes, because stuff gets in my eyes frequently, causing irritation. Other than that, I am thankful for my new normal. Once I figured out the different features of wigs and what colors I like, it has been a very positive experience buying through Wigs.com. I have recommended it to others I know with similar needs. I don’t know if I will ever grow hair back, and deep down, I’m hoping I don’t. Living with a wig has its challenges, but very few.”
She remembers that the first time she tried on a wig, it felt foreign.
"It looked fake. I did not want to draw any attention to myself and just wanted something that looked as natural as possible. I walked away from that first experience and kept looking. I didn’t know what to look for in a wig, until I found Planet Hair Salon, in Richmond , VA. Cheryl helped me in such a compassionate way and introduced me to the medical grade Raquel Welch wig.
The color was not completely normal for me, but she trimmed it up and styled it to fit me and I felt soooo much better. It was very stylish. For weeks I was still very self-conscious, kind of like a girl in junior high, feeling like everyone was looking at me, when in reality, it is no different than my many friends who get their hair cut or dyed! We all do new things periodically. I had to learn to accept that this WAS my hair. I paid for it!"
Colleen has since learned the wig ropes and learned what to look for in a wig.
"Synthetic, lace front, monofilament, heat friendly...have all become part of my vocabulary.
Since I found Wigs.com, I’ve learned that they frequently have 30% coupons, so that is when I buy, when I need a new one! It is much cheaper than going to the salon, but I’m still so grateful for the first few times I went to the salon. It comforted me and helped me learn about wigs."
She has grown and learned to accept and embrace hairlessness and wigs.
"I love my wigs. The worst inconvenience is not having eyelashes and eyebrows. It was very difficult to draw on eyebrows freehand every day, so I was able to get micro-blading done, which is semi-permanent tattoo eyebrows and it has been a tremendous blessing! The eyelash loss is the most uncomfortable because my eyes get irritated easily, but I’m learning to deal with that as best as I can."
Right now, Colleen’s husband is going through chemo, as he has a chronic form of leukemia, so they are walking this challenge together.
“Our hope is to go to Alaska together for our 30th anniversary in 2020! We praise God because he is tolerating his treatments pretty well. We know there are many people praying for him. I thought maybe I could share my wigs with him if he lost his hair, but so far, he has not! Haha!”
As a Christian, the Bible provides much wisdom and comfort for Colleen.
"2 Corinthians 1:3,4 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by a God.'
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says 'Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God concerning you.' God has helped me to always try to see whatever good I can even in the midst of difficult circumstances. I was counting my blessings that I didn’t appear to have any other health issues. I was thankful that my insurance would cover the cost of 1 wig per year. I was thankful that not only had my hair on my head fallen out, I also lost all the hair on the rest of my body and I now did not have to shave!"
Colleen and her husband, Bill, aren’t letting the cancer hinder their future plans for vacations and big events.
“If and when we go to Alaska next year, we haven’t decided what exactly our trip will be like...Possibly a cruise, or maybe just an inland adventure! Our oldest daughter got married last year and our youngest daughter is getting married this year. Two years in a row! I’ve worked as a labor and delivery room nurse for the past 31 years, and I will probably make a change in the near future but not until we pay for the next wedding!”
Wedding guests might even get the chance to discover Colleen’s fun and unique secret talent.
“I grew up with a musical mother, who started teaching me piano, then continued taking me to various teachers for the remaining years. I took lessons for about 10 years. I also took accordion lessons for 9 years, a result of the influence of my German stepfather. I have continued to play piano regularly at church, at a nursing home ministry, and occasional weddings.
I also play for my children’s previous school choirs each spring as they prepare for a fine arts competition. The accordion only comes out on special occasions for holidays with family, as there is a limited audience who can appreciate or enjoy it! Haha!”