I was raised in a Christian home with great parents who loved and nurtured me. I started my journey with Jesus as early as age 6, but over the next 8 years, I struggled with my identity in Christ. At age 14, I became certain of my salvation and journey with Jesus. I continued to follow and love him. At age 21, I tragically lost my younger sister from injuries in a car accident. We knew pretty quickly she was not going to survive. I still remember looking at myself in the mirror prior to seeing her when life support was taken off. I told Jesus I trusted him and that his will be done, not mine. He did decide to take her home that day, November 12, 1996. Over the years, Jesus has shown himself thru the lives that were touched by her life. I still hear stories of how her life and death impacted so many for Jesus even 25 years later. I miss her every day. I accepted long ago that I would not completely understand why he took her so soon until I am in heaven, and I have to be ok with that, or life would be unbearable. He has given me a peace that helps, and I have great memories to think back on with her.
Fast forward to November 11, 2017. Jesus allowed a different type of struggle to enter my life. My youngest child, who was about to turn 5 at the time, started to have hair the size of dimes missing from her head. Being in the medical field, my mind raced to so many possibilities, and fear set in quickly. By the end of the following week after the doctor's visit and lab work, we knew she had Hashimoto's thyroid disease. It is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the thyroid. It requires medication to stabilize. With thyroid issues, hair loss is common, so we hoped that the hair loss would reverse once her thyroid was back to normal. But it didn't. She was also diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, which is also an autoimmune disease. You can lose some or all your hair, and it never returns, but in her case, at this moment, we go through cycles of hair loss. It was so hard as parents to see her go through this, although she was not phased much by it. For the first 6 months, I just kept being hopeful it was a fluke and her thyroid issues just were completely resolved, and that was why it wasn't coming back yet. We had some regrowth with medication, but the hair came out again as soon as it ended. We received several unexpected financial gifts from friends and our church community that really touched my heart and helped us know we were not alone in our journey. The timing of the gifts was perfect, too, because we were trying a medication that was not covered by insurance. But the medication did not help Lila. I finally decided one day to get over my pity party. I knew I had to embrace it not just for me but for Lila, who was looking to us as a guide. Lila was already handling it well despite me not doing so well, and I just had to join her and have the same attitude "No hair, don't care." So with that, we started looking for ways to help and advocate for the Alopecia Areata Community. We were chosen to go to Washington, DC, to advocate for wig coverage on insurance policies. It was a great experience for both of us to see successful Alopecian from all walks of life.
We are in the 4th year of Lila's journey with Alopecia. She started showing interest in a wig. But since she has red curly hair, it is not the easiest kind to find. So after some research, we found a place to get a custom real red-headed one. Most insurance companies do not offer coverage for this, including ours. So we started a fundraiser of making bath bombs, and a friend started a PayPal pool for us. We got over half the funds quickly. Then a local group heard about us and donated the rest. And most recently, some young men in our neighborhood donated a generous amount of their allowance to help Lila get her wig. We had strangers hear Lila's story and join the cause. The generosity of others has warmed my heart so much, and I am thankful I asked for help even though I was reluctant to at first.
I know Lila does not comprehend the generosity of others as much at this time in her life, but as parents, the kindness of others has been overwhelming at times. We have been the ones to give to others in serving and gifts, so receiving them has been a new humbling experience. I am so grateful for the community around us that has shown love in so many ways and not just helping us with our Wig fund. The prayers and the encouragement to my little girl and our family have helped us through this journey. Some days I feel like I have it together, but some days are tough. I worry about her future, but I quickly go to the Father and know he knows it all. He continues to orchestrate so many things to ultimately give Him glory even in our loss and struggles. We must trust in sovereignty even when it doesn't make sense and hurt is so great. We must learn to embrace those moments of loss and heartache and know in the end, Jesus wins.