Even though I am bald, with Alopecia Universals, I know that no one can ever make me feel inferior without me allowing it: and that is something that will never happen again. . -Camille
Please share your story:
My story begins in the 4th grade, when I was at the mere age of 9. My mom was doing my hair for school and she found my first bald spot. She had no idea what it was, so she took me to the first of many dermatologists. This man told my mother that I use to much hair product in my hair, and that was why I had a bald spot. As more hair started to fall out, my mother got more concerned so we went to another doctor. This doctor told us that it was because I wore my hair in pony tails and it was putting too much stress on my hair. Finally my mother took to the internet and found that I could possibly have Alopecia. And again, we went to another doctor. Finally we had a diagnosis, Alopecia Areata. He wanted me to get shots of corticosteroids directly into my head. Well, anyone that knows me knows that I hate needles. In fact, what 9 year old likes shots? After finding out some pretty negative side effects and only a 50 percent chance of hair growth, we voted against the shots. I did go to another dermatologist and tried everything out there from creams, to lotions, to shampoos, to oral steroids, and nothing seemed to work. So, I gave up on treatment and decided to let it be. The kids at school were relatively fine about my hair loss, although a couple of girls would say things to me when they were mad, but being so young it didn't bother me too much.
Then came the dreaded middle school. I tend to think that middle school is just some evil place where kids like me go to get eaten alive, but I guess that's just my experience. At the beginning of 6th grade I had lost both my eyebrows, but thankfully the hair on my head was finally growing back. The bullying started slowly and I was handling it as much as I could, but it started to get to the point where I couldn't concentrate in school any longer. I was being called freak and hairless cat, they threw food at me during lunch, would try to trip me, shoved me in the halls and meowed at me. This happened on a daily basis. And what made it worse was that I lost both of my best friends to the bullies: they joined in. From there everything went downhill, I fell into a depression, I began self harming, I stopped eating, and I planned my suicide. This was all at the fragile age of 14. All I could think about were those cruel words playing like a recording over and over. I would come home from school and find horrible messages on my phone or on my social media accounts; there was no way to escape, there was no way out. One night I finally decided to go through with my plan to kill myself, I was desperate to get away from my pain. The only thing that stopped me from taking my life at the very last moment was hearing my sister come home. And it made me wonder how she would have reacted to finding her little sister dead. At that point I knew I needed to fight, and I needed to get help. After going to the school several times throughout the course of three years and getting no help at all, I decided to create a Facebook page. I called it Dare to be Different. There I was able to vent about my experience with bullying and talk to other kids who were dealing with similar issues. At that point I also decided to write a letter to my school superintendent, Dr. Burke. I told him what had been going on and how long I had been dealing with the bullying, and most importantly I told him how his school was handling it! I explained how my grades were suffering due to the bullying and so was my mental health. He came in a few days latter and talked to me. He finally put an end to the bullying by telling those girls if they say one more word to me that made me feel bad about myself they would be expelled! So yes, the bullying stopped, but everything didn't magically get better. Now I was forced to deal with my self esteem issues, my eating disorder and my self harming. I will admit that it took a very long time to put myself back together. But having the love and support of my family and three very special people, Lana Becker, Randi Moxi and Constantine James, helped immensely.
My Facebook page is now a non-profit organization proudly called Cam's Dare To Be Different. I also have a website, www.camsdtbd.org. I speak to schools and groups sharing my story in hopes to get through to my peers. My motto is to inspire, empower and educate. I want people to understand how powerful words can be; words can heal or they can kill. I have also gotten involved with platform based pageant, and won the title of Miss Teen Illinois International 2014 and I am currently Miss Huntley 2015. My story has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines, which helps me gain exposure and, in turn, help others. I've also won several awards including The Everyday Hero Award in 2015. My story is also featured in two books: Head On Stories of Alopecia and Bullying is No Laughing Matter. I'm also in the works of writing my own book that will feature 21 other boys and girls who also suffer from Alopecia.
I'm happy to say that I am once again a high honor roll student at Huntley High School, maintaining a 4.0. As a junior, I enjoy taking honor and AP classes to push my self academically. I plan on attending a university in the fall of 2017 to study Psychology! My goal is to touch as many lives as I possibly can. I want people to understand that everyone is different and that being different is not a negative thing. With the help of my family, my friends, all of my supporters, and God I have been able to achieve so many things I thought were impossible. I feel incredibly blessed to be where I am today, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for me.
Losing my hair for the second time was not nearly as bad as the first and even though I am bald, with Alopecia Universals, I know that no one can ever make me feel inferior without me allowing it: and that is something that will never happen again.
I finally found my passion, my purpose, my destiny.