Melissa's Story

Melissa’s journey started at the young age of 21, the age when most are anticipating a new and exciting time full of possibilities and changes positive changes. Melissa recalls her newfound independence and freedom to go out of state to visit her boyfriend.

Things took an unexpected turn for her when she fell ill with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized.

“I was angry because I had a shopping trip planned and had recently worked my body up to running 3-5 miles a day. This diagnosis would change my plans. After getting out of the hospital I experienced chest pain in less than a week and became short of breath one morning while getting ready for work. I worked at a doctor's office so the physician examined me and was alarmed at the sound of my lungs.”

Melissa’s condition took a scary turn when she was sent to the hospital once again to find out her lung had collapsed and that she would need a chest tube. After spending a few very painful days in the hospital, she was relived to be discharged.

“A week later I was happy to finally be feeling better when I noticed half of my one eyebrow was falling out. I mentioned this to the doctor and was ordered some lab work. When everything came back normal, I was sent to a dermatologist. This was where I was given my diagnosis of alopecia.”

She found herself to be one of the many people who have alopecia, which is a condition that causes hair to fall out. Depending on the specific kind of alopecia a person has, they can have total hair loss (eyelashes, eyebrows etc.) or hair loss in patched or specific areas.

“My hair loss started with the loss of all my eyebrows. I had very blonde hair growing up, almost white that my mother compared to a horse’s tail because it was so thick. My nickname in school was goldilocks. I was known as the girl with the thick, blonde, long beautiful hair. I knew my hair was something special that some people would of loved to have had. Most people given my diagnosis would have been devastated but God had to of been close by telling me that it will all be fine because I shocked myself at how well I have handled my story.

...I think my mother was more upset than I was when it happened. My family had made such a fuss over my hair through the years and didn't know how to deal with the loss. My dad told me the old saying if when your handed lemons in life, make lemonade and that's what I did.”

Melissa did an amazing job coping with her hair loss, and is a true inspiration to all who suffer from alopecia or hair loss due to any reason. God gave her grace to accept what she could not change, and she is also thankful for amazing support from people the God placed in her life.

“It also helped that my high school sweetheart married me 2 years after my diagnosis and has supported me through my journey. He is the husband that has made me feel beautiful when I lost every hair on my body at the age of 30. Through the 9 years I lost a little more hair every year. I always had a positive attitude with my situation and counted my blessing.

I was dating my husband when I was diagnosed [with alopecia]. He drove 3 hours from his college to surprise me after my dermatologist appointment to tell me in person that he would love me with it without hair and he has kept his promise. He has never made me feel less attractive without my hair. I usually take my wig off at home in the evenings so he sees me without it often.”

After all that Melissa had overcome, her story doesn’t end there…

“I lost track of the people who asked me if I was going through chemotherapy and what type of cancer I have. I always told myself, ‘It could be worse, you could have cancer.’ While turning 30, I was finishing up my nursing degree. Maybe I could be a light to those who were dealing with similar experiences as me. I would like to think my positive attitude and love for life has affected somebody in my past but my biggest challenge after more episodes of collapsed lungs and diagnosis of other autoimmune disorders could not compare to the diagnosis of two types of breast cancer at the age of 42. Now I was angry, sad, and numb.

Now what do I say when someone sees me without hair and asks me 'Do you have cancer?' I never minded talking about my hair loss when questioned but now it was complicated, yes, I have cancer but that's not why I don't have hair. I questioned why me? I have a strong faith and love the Lord. This was a time in my life where I didn't know What to say or how to react so I just gave it to the Lord.”

God must have known that she was such an incredible fighter to give her such a high mountain to climb. Although her hair loss, lung health and cancer diagnosis gave her journey many trials, her amazing will and attitude shine brightly.  

“I am now 2 years cancer free, praise the Lord. I have learned that life is so short. Blink your eyes and your kids are all grown, your hair is gray! Well, mine is if I want it to be that day. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be happy and don't let a little hair loss get you down. I thank the Lord, my awesome parents, and loving husband. I may not have hair but with prayer God provided me with so much more.”

Yes, gave me confidence and to feel normal.

Melissa and her husband, Greg now have three boys, Trenton, Isaac, and Brody. What a handful!

“My middle child Isaac told me ‘Mom, you never felt sorry for yourself or made a big deal out of being bald so neither do we.’ My family actually humor the fact that I am bald and we have fun with it. They like to wear my wig when friends come over and my oldest Trenton will sing, dance and perform with it on for us. He's a goofball. I wash it in my sink downstairs since we have 2 in that bathroom and have forgot it was soaking in the sink when Trenton’s date saw it and didn't know what to say when she came out of the bathroom. Trenton realized what she saw in the bathroom and asked her if she saw the dead animal my mom put in the sink.

My husband Greg has never made me feel any different with or without hair. When we went last year to Mexico with some other couples and I asked him if I should wear an old wig to the beach, he tells me to do what makes me comfortable and that he could care less what I do and that I am the most beautiful girl on the beach in his eyes…

Most people would think that my husband was too good to be true, but that's where God comes in the picture. He blessed me with a handsome, sweet, loving, faithful, hardworking and family-oriented husband. I know men like him are few and far between in today's world so we have raised our boys to be the same. Life can try to drag you down but it's our choice if we go down or stay up and I have chosen to stay up while being a role model for my family”

Melissa truly has been blessed with the gift of a beautiful family, full of good humor and fun nature!

“My friends and siblings know how comfortable I am and have tried my wigs on for pictures, including my husband and I can laugh with them. Here is a picture of my sister in one of my wigs. She is darker with brown eyes like my mother, where I took after my dad with blonde hair and blue eyes but looks good in the blonde wig.


She’s in beauty school and graduating in May. I'm hoping she can get me some discounts or maybe help cut my boys hair!

That's another joke in our family, that the bald nurse in the family cuts boys hair better than beautician. I went to hair shows in New York with a friend when my hair first fell out and got discounts on my wigs. While she shopped, I would sit and watch the hair cutting classes on the latest styles they offered then practiced on my family. Now my boys only want me to cut their hair!”

Melissa is very open about wearing wigs and never afraid to talk about it to others. As a nurse, she has even been able to help patients going through hair loss from chemo.

"The day I was told I had breast cancer was probably a sadder moment in my life. Now my story had to change to, 'No, I don't have hair and yes, I did have cancer but that's not why I don't have hair.'  I wasn't so quick to share my story because it was too long and complicated. I just deny the cancer all together now when questioned because it's easier. I never wanted people to feel sorry for me but only see that happiness is a choice we make and that's what I chose to do, be happy."