I’m Kate I’m 50 years old or 50 years’ young thank you very much!
I’ve had alopecia since I was 17 years old, I used to lose it in patches and then it would sporadically grow back.
I lost all the hair on my scalp and I also lost my eyebrows 21 years ago, just after I had my lovely son. In that time frame it started to randomly grow back once – for no apparent reason. I can’t think of a reason that sparked it off, so I treated myself to a nice haircut and it all fell out again (laughs) but so be it.
More about Kate
I’ve tried to be positive and upbeat about it. That’s not always been easy, especially in the early days. I can still remember the first moment of feeling that first bald patch when I was 17. I was talking to my mom and I put my hand in my hair and I thought ‘oh that’s really smooth’. I got my mom to look and it was probably the size of a 5 pence piece and, literally overnight, I ended up with two patches – one either side – behind my ears.
Obviously, I went to see my GP, who at the time told me that I was pulling it out myself! My argument was that it was as smooth as a baby’s bottom, there was no bristle or anything. Anyway, that was her outlook on it. I changed doctors not long after that and I saw another GP several times and the general answer I got was that ‘its alopecia there’s nothing you can do about it, just go away and get used to it’.
My old dad, bless him, paid for me to go up to Colmore Row in the city centre to the hair treatment clinic, I think it was called. They charged my dad a lot of money for what was basically vitamin B tablets and 5 minute blasts under a bizarre lamp which really didn’t do anything.
The only time anything ever got done about it was when I was in my mid 20s and I saw a locum at my local GPs who was quite shocked that my alopecia was as bad as it was, it was very patchy and very difficult to hide at that point. He sent me off to the hospital. Over the years, I’ve been backwards and forwards to the skin hospital and I’ve tried steroid injections in my scalp, which was very painful I must say, very painful and not very successful. I got a little bit of growth around the sites of the injections but then it fell out again.
I tried another chemical on my head which was supposed to cause an allergic reaction, like an eczema kind of reaction on my scalp, which was supposed to have quite good success rate but, unfortunately, I was the one who it didn’t work for. I used to wake up quite often if they’d got the strength of it wrong. I’d wake up with my head weeping and stuck to the pillow. I’ve tried most things that the hospital could try to the point where I just stopped going.
I know I’m entitled to a wig prescription which I do get now and then, but I don’t wear them very often. They’re uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter how expensive they are. A few years ago I treated myself to a human hair one, but they’re just not comfortable. I accept the fact that a lot of ladies in my predicament would want their head covered up all the time, but every cloud has a silver lining and I’ve got a good shaped head for being bald, so I’ve been quite lucky in that regard. I have got to a point after so many years that I was quite happy to walk around and take whatever came with that.
I have had random people coming up to me in shops saying that they are going to pray for me, which part of me understands because people are presuming that I’m poorly and having treatment. It does make you wonder why they think it’s OK to come and talk to a complete stranger and say things like ‘you’re very brave you are’. Why am I? Why am I brave? If it was a birth mark on my face that I couldn’t do anything about, would you be saying something to me then? I can’t control it.
My children are 24 and 21 now, but the younger one especially over the years has really struggled with people’s reactions to me when we’re out and about. He really gets quite hurt by it. I’m always trying to say to him ‘it’s human nature, people will look’. They usually do a bit of a double take. A lot of the time you can understand their thought process, ‘ooh yes, it’s female and yes, its bald’. It’s when people are downright rude and stare for inappropriate periods of time that’s when it’s upsetting. But you sort of have to just put up with it I suppose.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and the doctor, the oncologist, who gave me that lovely bit of news at the time, his words were ‘well you haven’t got to worry about your hair falling out have you’ which I suppose I hadn’t but…….
I had a couple of bouts of surgery and then started a course of chemo. Naturally when I started all the chemo eyebrows, eyelashes and all other body hair went and I did think to myself that this total shut down with the chemo might kick start my hair follicles again. There were a few different varying opinions from medical staff, apart from my lovely GP bless him, who is quite brutal. “How long have you had alopecia now?” and I said, ‘Coming up to 32 years’, and he was like ‘No it’s not going to happen.’
I have a mammogram in the next few weeks and hopefully everything’s looking good. I was happy that my eyelashes and eyebrows did come back because I was really worrying about them. They have been as good as they’ve always been but nothing on the scalp, just my few little bristles that I’ve always got. I’ve always described it’s as a cross between a coconut and a toilet brush, it is very sporadic which is why I just got rid of it.
Kate works with children, what have been their reactions?
Funnily they’re so accepting aren’t they children. I mean none of us are born racist or sexist, they are just used to me. They question me and ask: ‘why have you not got any hair’, but they are very accepting. There are times when the older children have looked at my ID badge and said, ‘it’s not you, it’s not you’. That’s because on my ID badge I’ve got a wig on! Or they’ll ask if I will take wigs in, which I have done on numerous occasions over the years. The younger ones especially, they don’t like it. They don’t like me with a wig on because as far as they’re concerned it’s not me, it’s not the way they know me.
Most of my friends, most of my close friends are brutal to the point of ‘why would you even bother putting a wig on, you are you!’ They’re my friends, they love me regardless which is lovely, but it’s the way I feel as well isn’t it?
I hadn’t come across SMP before but I know Paul (Clark) through a mutual friend who lives locally to me. When I started chatting about it with Paul I had a little look online because you do don’t you, and some of the pictures obviously were scary – people who have just gone and asked joe blogs or their friend down the road with a tattoo gun. Naturally, a few of the photos worried me but looking at this clinic and your work, there’s no comparison really, no comparison at all.
Some of my friends who have only ever known me bald were a bit concerned and a bit worried, because they hadn’t heard of it either. They were like ‘Are you sure Kate? What if you don’t like it?’ I could understand their concerns but I was always thinking ‘what have I got to lose?’ Why wouldn’t I? The response even just after the 1stsession was quite amazing. The one fella at work, who is an assistant head, he was very worried about me having it done, he was really shocked by it and really positive.
I’ve had such positive feedback from people. I’ve got a friend, bless her, who I don’t see very often, she’s brutal, brutally honest. So, if she wasn’t impressed she would have said so, believe me. I was talking to her on the ‘phone and trying to explain what I’d had done. She was like ‘you’re going to have to send me a picture’. So, I sent her a photo through and the response I got back was ‘WOW Yessss!’ So, that says a lot for it.
I’m thrilled with it. It made me cry, it makes me cry. I’m really emotional about it, it is life changing. I know people might say that’s ridiculous and I still get looks, of course I do. I think it’s that aspect of SMP, now I look like I’ve chosen to do this. It’s not ‘what a shame’, which is what a lot of people obviously did think previously but were too nice to say. What a bloody shame, how must she feel? Now it has given me the chance to take the reins.
A few weeks ago I had a shout out from a DJ. He said ’What an awesome woman, look she’s a skinhead stood up the bar, what an awesome woman’. I thought that was lovely. It has been an issue, I’m single and have been for quite some time. I have no idea why you men don’t like ladies with a bald head, I can’t understand it! Who knows what might happen now, watch this space!
Before and after
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