Health Team

Loss of hair is 'blessing' for Raleigh woman

Posted August 4, 2010 1:06 p.m. EDT
Updated August 5, 2010 5:23 p.m. EDT

— Hair loss can be a traumatic experience that challenges self-esteem, but a Raleigh woman turned the loss of her hair into inspiration for creativity.

Eleven years ago, when Sandra Dubose was 25, her hair began to fall out. The loss was slow at first, but Dubose feared it would grow worse.

"I was very afraid that it would get to where it is now," Dubose said. She is now bald.

Dubose was diagnosed with Alopecia, an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks hair follicles. It can lead to the loss of patches or all of a person's hair.

The cause of Alopecia is unknown, but it is associated with other autoimmune diseases, and researchers believe there might be a genetic link. Dubose's father had lupus, in which the immune system attacks the body's tissue and organs.

Dubose said she usually wears a wig, but it didn't always cover her sense of loss.

"It's not like I was in a depression where I was in the bed all the time," she said. "You're functional. You go do what you need to do, but that joy is missing."

Dubose said she came to realize that her hair didn't define her beauty, so she produced a documentary about her experiences.

One of those experiences was a meeting with her best friends. "We did this 'sister circle,' a forum where we started to open up the topic of hair," she said.

Dubose said she also built up the courage to conquer another barrier – the first time she "went outside 'bald'" and did a photo shoot.

"Quite honestly, I was quite nervous," she recalled. "Then we went and did the photo shoot, and it was just so exciting and liberating to just say, 'You know? I'm loving myself right now.'"

Dubose wrote and recorded a song that's a personal anthem about discovering her real beauty and purpose. "I understand what I'm worth, and I'm beautiful, inside and out," are some of the lyrics.

"I was chosen to carry this burden, and it's not a burden at all," Dubose said. "It's actually been a real blessing for me."