Emily Leffingwell has her wig.
If that’s not miracle enough, her own hair is growing back, too!
Emily came in second in a Facebook contest designed to raise awareness about alopecia areata, a syndrome in which the body's own immune system becomes confused and begins to attack the hair follicles.
The winner of the contest would get a very expensive, strong-holding wig. Emily felt that the wig would make a huge difference in her life.
She was leading in the voting until the very last days of the contest, when another young girl pulled ahead of her.
Between them, Emily and the first-prize winner had more brought more than 6,000 people to the Facebook site. And Peggy Knight Solutions, the wig supplier who sponsored the contest, agreed.
Usually, it takes six months or so to receive the wig. But the company already had one in Emily’s size and Emily’s color, and so, just before Christmas, the wig arrived.
Emily is 10 and goes to the Dr. Charles E. Murphy Elementary School. She was 7 when alopecia areata hit her for the first time.
The, came to Emily out of the blue. That first time, it took part of her eyebrows.
It receded, as it does, until August, when Emily’s hair began falling out in clumps.
At first, Karen, Emily’s mother, thought her daughter was pulling her hair out. But she wasn’t.
After scans, biopsies and a multitude of tests, the diagnosis of alopecia areata came back.
Karen and Emily breathed a sigh of relief, really. It was not something life-threatening, it was not cancer, it was not something that would damage Emily’s health or touch her future.
But it was her hair.
So Karen got Emily a couple of wigs. And Emily’s friends stood close by her, and supported her.
“I have tons of friends,” Emily said, back in November. (To read the first story on Emily, click here).
When the wig arrived, Karen realized that some of Emily’s hair had to be shaved, so the wig could grip correctly.
The hair was shaved. At the same time, Emily began using a herbal remedy from India.
And as Emily began wearing the wig, and using the remedy, her hair started to grow back.
Karen and Emily don’t know why her hair is coming in, but they’re pleased. Alopecia areata typically has cycles, and they think they might just be in a growth cycle. Or the herbal remedy could be helping.
Emily has been going to school with and without the wig.
“We try to make sure she’s comfortable without it,” Karen says. “She looks cute.”
Emily was recently given a Montville Marvels award for her courage and acceptance of her alopecia areata. She attended the Board of Education meeting to receive the award. She was very nervous, but is pleased and proud to have received the honor.
The school system was a strong part of the process, Karen says.
“All the principals helped with the wig,” she says. They allowed teachers and students to talk about it and let teachers send a letter of explanation home with students, if they wished. Their support of Emily and of the Facebook contest really helped, Karen says.
And in the end, Emily is just what she’s always been: a 10-year-old girl, going to school, making friends, growing up.
“It’s just hair,” Karen says. “We took care of it.”