Q & A with Rayna by sister and Sauce founder, Shayla Swanson
Q: Rayna, can you share a bit more about how your alopecia presented?
A: Sure. I had small bald spot when I was 12 years old, but it all grew back. Then when I was about 23, I started to experience some very significant hair loss. It started behind my ear on one side and worked it’s way up the side. This was a challenging time as I was beginning to understand that I may lose all of my hair. I was trying to hide it from my new boyfriend, avoiding wind, constantly tucking my hair. After a few years, the hair loss was so extensive that I started wearing wigs.
Q: I know it doesn’t compare in the slightest way to what you’ve gone through, but it has been hard to watch you have to deal with this. You have handled it with such courage and I am just so proud to be your sister. One thing that has been amazing to me is the way that you have been able to stay positive and maintain a sense of humor throughout this process.
A: One thing I try to always remember is that although this disorder sucks, I am otherwise healthy. I was reminded of that when I ran a half-marathon shortly after shaving my head. I kept having to stop and walk because I hadn't trained properly for the race. Everyone who passed me was cheering me on with great
enthusiasm because I think they thought I was recovering from chemotherapy – I didn’t get a chance to tell them I was just bald and out of shape. Putting it in perspective like that makes me feel lucky. Everyone has a ‘thing,’ mine just means I don’t have to spend as much time getting ready in the morning! While I was dating my now husband, I remember telling him, ‘you thought you were into brunettes, but turns out you’re into bald girls!’ He laughed.
Q: Do you have any advice you would like to share with other people who are in a similar situation?
A: Everyone's experience with hair loss and alopecia is so different it is really difficult to give general advice. I do think allowing yourself time to grieve the loss of your hair and physical identity is important. Then getting a great wig, hat or rocking a bald head or bald spots, whatever it takes for you to feel like you again and gives you the ability to be comfortable participating in your favorite activities.