How a brave young girl coped with the problem of hair loss.

Eden Sayer is a normal thirteen-year-old girl, with a cheeky smile and happy- go-lucky nature.  Around two years ago, her mum Sara noticed that the parting in Eden’s hair appeared to be getting wider. Worried by this, Sara took Eden to the local GP who assured them that it was nothing to worry about but to keep an eye on it. It got worse and after a visit to a different doctor, Eden was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. It was not the traditional version of the condition, as tufts of ‘baby hair’ grew back in the bald patches, but it resulted in Eden losing the hair from the top of her head. Steroid creams burned and the condition was worsening. Eden started to wear bandanas to hide the area of her scalp that was affected, although she still had a fringe, which helped it look normal.

Eden never felt sorry for herself, even though as the eldest of four children, her mum describes her as being the most sensitive.

‘I felt as though I’d failed her,’ said Sara. ‘As a mum you feel totally responsible for anything bad that happens to your children and I didn’t know what to do. Eden’s hair started to grow back a bit and it looked a lot better but then in January 2009, my brother committed suicide and this seemed to coincide with the condition worsening again.’

Eden confided in her best friend Georgia about her alopecia, who was totally supportive and protective, when three boys at school were bullying Eden.

The school was entirely accommodating and let Georgia and Eden share a two-man tent on a camping trip to save Eden any embarrassment. And Eden’s hair looked obviously thin when swimming, so she was excused from swimming lessons with the explanation that the chlorine irritated her skin.

When Eden was to move up to senior school, Sara and Eden decided to replace the bandana with a thick Alice Band that disguised the condition, but Sara was determined to do more to help Eden and trawled the Internet for a solution. Eden became more and more dismayed by the pages of pictures of wigs and totally refused to consider them. Then Sara found a website that would change their lives. Neil Harvey, based near Stratford-upon-Avon, has a video on his website which shows him working with ladies who have alopecia of varying degrees.  Each lady tells her story on the website and Sara thought they looked fantastic. She persuaded Eden to look. Neil’s gentle and caring approach really impressed Eden and the wigs looked so natural and fabulous.

‘I want to see him!’ Eden told her mum. So they made the journey from Norfolk to Stratford-upon-Avon to Neil’s salon. Neil met them on a Sunday evening, which was the most convenient time for Sara’s family considering the three-and-a-half hour journey, which Sara says is a small price to pay to see Eden happy again!’

Eden liked Neil immediately and has nothing but praise for him, ‘ Neil treated me like an adult, he talked me through every stage; we looked at colour options, cutting and styling and care of the wig. Neil made me feel very special and I was the only one in the salon apart from my mum and dad, so I didn’t have to show anyone else how I looked without my Alice Band. He was completely different to any other hairdresser and talks to you about everything he’s doing. He took the time to gain my confidence and make me feel really comfortable.’

Sara added, ‘Although Neil involved us, he dealt directly with Eden, making sure that she felt secure and got what she wanted, he was great with her. I want to shout from the roof tops what that man has done for us – he truly is a knight in shining armour – he is just missing the white charger!’

Eden got her new wig just before Christmas and is delighted with the results. Her schoolmates, who have no idea that Eden suffers from Alopecia, remarked how great her hair looked when she returned after the holidays.

‘I just said mum had let me colour it, although it is a perfect match to my own hair. Neil cut it into a terrific style and all my friends love it,’ Eden says.

And it doesn’t stop her from doing the things she loves, such as playing Soft Ball, Dodge Ball and full-contact Rugby. Eden also has accomplished a purple belt in martial arts, which is only two short of a black belt!

Sara has noticed a new confidence in her daughter and Eden is bright and bubbly again.

‘It has taken all the stress away,’ says Sara. The family regularly go for walks on the beach and Eden plays rough and tumble with her younger siblings, without any worry about her hair.

Eden is in year eight at Fakenham High School and hopes to go to college after her GSCEs to do a course in hair and beauty.