Overcoming Alopecia Areata: British Gold Medalist’s Inspiring Story
British Olympic Gold Medalist, Joanna Rowsell, has revealed how her passion for cycling helped her become more focused and also overcome her shyness about alopecia areata. ‘I worked through any worries I had about my hair and I focused solely on that… Cycling was another thing for me to focus on. It suddenly didn’t matter what I looked like, it was about performing on the bike and that’s what I was judged on…It made me who I am.” she says.
Affecting approximately 2% of the population, alopecia areata is characterised by anything from small bald patches, to large areas of baldness covering the scalp. It can even cause hair loss over the whole body in extreme cases (alopecia totalis). While there is no cure for alopecia areata, many individuals can go into remission and experience complete hair regrowth. However, as with Joanna Rowsell, this hair loss and re-growth can come and go sporadically. Joanna was diagnosed with alopecia areata at just 11 years old and has experienced 2 bouts of regrowth – one when she was 16 and the other when she turned 20.
If winning a gold medal and setting a world record wasn’t inspiring enough, this 23 year old has used her talent and fame to overcome her alopecia. While many people shy away from the public eye with this often psychologically distressing condition, Joanna has openly discussed her battle with alopecia areata
to create awareness and support for other sufferers. ’I've always had the opinion that you only live once’ she shared with the Daily Mail ‘I’m not going to let having alopecia hold me back…Being an Olympic medal winner can’t help but give you even more confidence and I think if I can help raise awareness too that will help’.