A gorgeous, strong, confident, and HAPPY young lady. A THIRTEEN year old when she lost all her hair in just TWO weeks. This shoot was planned to inspire and lift her spirits, but little did I know she would inspire me more than anything I have ever done in photography.
We met before sunset, a little after Kat’s Hair Studio spend some time doing Summer’s makeup for the shoot. Summer was all smiles, she owns exactly who she is hair or no hair. We chatted during her shoot, and I learned all about her family, her best friend Maddie that has been a bald beauty too so they have a special bond, and all about school and how some kids are so mean to her because she doesn’t have hair. She smiled after telling me this, I realized she is one heck of a STRONG young lady.
Here is a little about Summer from her Mom, Sharon: “Summer L Stauffer born March 18, 2002 in Fredericksburg Va. In early October of 2015 she was washing a car with a friend and I noticed a bald spot on the side of her head. We went to the doctor and confirmed it was Alopecia. It took us about three weeks to get into a Dermatologist who officially diagnosed Summer with Alopecia Universalis (AU) on October 29 2015. From when I noticed the first bald spot until the time that all of her hair had fallen out was about two weeks, four days before our appointment at the dermatologist. They informed us that day that AU is one of the rarest forms of alopecia and her case was especially rare because of how fast it happened. There are three types of Alopecia:
Alopecia areata, the most common variation of the autoimmune disease, presents itself as round, smooth patches of various sizes.
Alopecia Areata Totalis
Alopecia areata totalis presents itself as total loss of hair on the scalp
Alopecia Areata Universalis
Alopecia areata universalis is the rarest form of alopecia areata and presents itself as the loss of hair over the entire scalp and body
Alopecia is not contagious. They don’t know exactly how or why some people develop it. It is an autoimmune disease that is normally brought on secondary to some other medical issue or diagnosis. The easiest way to explain what and how it works is that your body is allergic to your hair. Now keep in mind this is not the technical definition, just an easier way to explain. There is no cure for Alopecia. However there are treatments to help the possible regrowth of hair, injections, creams, squaric acid. None of these would have been beneficial for Summer. The only possible one they suggested would be the squaric acid treatment. After talking this over with Summer she decided against it. Basically they would put this acid on her scalp in hopes to cause an allergic reaction and her body would attack that and leave the hair follicles alone to regrow hair. On top of my 13 year old female child, at the time this all started, losing all her hair she was going through some medical issues as well. Summer missed a lot of school between the middle of October until December when we were able to finally get her on home bound school. She went back to school part time in January and returned full time April 4. Through all the lab work, scans, ultrasounds, visits to the ER, the Gastroenterologist, Primary doctor, Oncology/Hematology, Orthopedic and physical therapy they have still not determined everything and what was happening with her. She is being treated for stomach issues with medicine that seems to be working, a liver mass that they have been watching, and still trying to figure out what is wrong with her back and the pain there.
Summer has met people within the past six months, complete strangers with Alopecia as well, who have come up to her and asked if she has Alopecia and that she inspires them and makes them want to be like her, to have her strength and own what obstacles that have been placed in her path. They hide behind wigs, hats, scarfs and make up because they are scared of what others will say and not comfortable in their own skin. A woman stopped us walking out of the store around Christmas time and was amazed of how Summer was “rocking” the bald head. She gave Summer a hug said “God Bless you I want to be like you.” They look at her father and I and tell us that we have raised a very strong young woman. I hope so. We always tell our children that they are who they are meant to be.”
Summer is a big sister:
A best friend:
And an amazing, inspirational person!