Mum with alopecia inspires two daughters who also have the condition
A mum who went bald five years ago is inspiring her daughters who suffer from the same condition.
Rachel Regal, from Northern California, developed alopecia when she was 29 and daughters Ellie, 10, and Callie, six, swiftly followed suit.
The full-time mum said strangers even offer to pay for their dinner in restaurants because they think they have cancer.
But the determined trio are embracing their baldness and supporting each other.
Rachel, 34, said: “Our faith is the only thing that has got us through the last five years together.
“We’ve just had to trust that if we stand firm, we will be where we’re meant to be.”
Rachel first starting losing her hair at the end of 2011 and although she’s never been given an exact reason, she believes it was stress-related.
The following year, the rest of her body hair – including nose, leg and underarm hair – disappeared.
Rachel, who also has a 15-year-old son called Devin, said: “I’d been feeling a tingling sensation at the back of my head for a few months but never thought much of it.
“Then at Thanksgiving I asked my cousin to take a look which is when she saw a bald patch.
“I just freaked out.”
Rachel then visited various doctors trying different treatments which is when she was told there was only a 30 per cent chance her hair would ever grow back.
She added: “I remember standing in the shower looking at the clumps of hair in my hand, clogging up my drain.
“I was just heartbroken.
“I’d just cry in the shower because it was the only place I could get a moment to myself.
“I shaved my hair in the end because I felt so helpless, and just when I started to accept it, the rest of my body hair fell out too!
“Down to my eyelashes and eyebrows, I had a blank face.”
Shortly after Rachel lost her hair, her eldest daughter Ellie started losing hers too, then aged six.
It briefly grew back but then rapidly fell out, although Ellie was comforted by her mother’s courage.
Rachel said: “Ellie would say she wanted to be bald and beautiful like me.
“Behind closed doors she was fine, but the world can be cruel and people at school made fun of her.
“I went into her class at school to explain about the condition to her peers and that helped them understand what she was going through, but other kids on the playground weren’t so nice.
“I used to sit with her at lunch so she didn’t feel alone.”
Rachel and husband Derick, 36, started fundraising to pay for a wig for Ellie.
Rachel added: “She had to overcome being made fun of and find her place in the world.
“But at the same time, I said a wig was an accessory and shouldn’t be used to identify her.”
Strangers often stop and stare at the family, with some people even picking up their restaurant bill.
Rachel said: “People assume I have cancer and start telling me about a loved one they lost.
“I feel like I can’t really say anything to them because they’ve shared such a deep part of their life with me.
“I appreciate when someone asks me instead, and I’m able to share my story.
“If Ellie and I go out as well, people think we both have cancer which is worse.
“We were in a restaurant once, getting ready to pay and leave when a waiter came over and said the couple next to us had paid for the entire meal.
“I was beyond grateful but the only reason they did that was because they thought we had cancer.
“I even had a lady pay for my groceries once.
“I’d run back to the car to fetch my purse and by the time I got to the cashier, I was told the woman had paid.
“She didn’t even stick around for me to say thank you, I was in shock.”
Amazingly, Ellie’s hair completely grew back in 2016 – something doctors never predicted – although large bald patches have started to reappear.
At the same time, Callie’s hair started to thin and she now has a bald patch on her crown.
Rachel said: “We’ve just accepted that three’s a charm.
“For the most part, Ellie accepts it.
“She knows there’s nothing she can do about it and although she doesn’t like it, she gets on with it.
“We thought we might have dodged a bullet with Callie but now she seems to be developing alopecia too at the same age Ellie did.
“I think she will be OK though, since she has her mom and her big sis by her side!”