By Dr. Linda Amerson
Few people will deny that having Alopecia Areata affects them psychologically. It can also become a social trauma for millions of men, women, and children, affecting daily social situations and personal interactions. Often, how other coworkers, friends, and/or family members react to Alopecia Areata is the most crucial factor in how well a person copes. So PLEASE use caution WITH YOUR WORDS when you say “it’s only hair,” “just get a wig,” or “hair loss is ONLY a cosmetic problem.” Put yourself in this person’s shoes. Losing hair can be devastating! I urge you to always be complementary and tell them you care about them, and how their happiness is important to you, you will support them through challenging times, and if this applies, tell them you love them! You could emphasize how their inner beauty shines more than their outer beauty to you!” This can be a very powerful statement when said with meaning.
Ryan Shazier is a 28-year-old former linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the proud son of Rev. Vernon and Shawn Shazier. Follow #50 on the football fields. He previously played for Ohio State University. This 6-foot-1, 237-pound player, has a speed of 4.36 in the 40-yard dash. Fast! Ryan was affected with alopecia at the age of five. He first had round patches which progressed to Alopecia Universalis. His parents helped him through his challenging times of scalp injections from the dermatologist, and coping with name-calling throughout his childhood. Yes, kids are cruel when they do not understand a medical condition that contributes to alopecia.
According to Jeremy Fowler, an ESPN Staff Writer, “Ryan’s hair would fall out in patches, which kids in the stands at his football games would notice when he took off his helmet. The laughing and taunting was clearly audible to his parents. He was bullied, called ‘patchy,’ ‘patch,’ ‘cue ball,’ and other harsh names. With loving parents and the confidence that came from excelling in football, Shazier has earned new nicknames — playmaker, first-rounder, potential Steelers star. Ryan Shazier sustained a spinal injury in 2017 and has not played since, but with his agency, Creative Artists Agency, he has created an excellent platform to help kids cope with alopecia. Thank you, Ryan, for being a positive role model to children diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, Totalis, and Universalis disease.