‘It may change your appearance but not your personality’
KARA-Lee Buckton was four years old when her mother first discovered a sign of hair loss on her head.
She became one in two per cent of the population across the nation to live with the auto-immune disease, Alopecia Areata.
Being a hairdresser, mother Leissa Buckton noticed the warning sign, and knew what they could have been up against.
So she quickly took her daughter to the doctor.
Now a 12 year old, the Year 8 Rockhampton Girls Grammar School student hasn’t allowed the condition to change her, and has instead embraced it.
“I lose patches of my hair, my immune system attacks the hair follicles making them fall out,” Kara-Lee said.
She is shining a light on the disease to make it more talked about and bring it out from the darkness.
But it took a dark moment for her to decide to make a difference for others living with Alopecia Areata.
In January, she was struggling emotionally with the condition which prompted her to form her own Instagram page which gained the support of her loyal family and friends.
“At the end of last year, she started to get bigger patches than she’d ever had,” Ms Buckton said.
So Kara-Lee’s friends (and fellow dancers) Kadence and Alexis Levigne and Evie Ward jumped on board to cheer her up, donating their hair to be put towards the making of wigs.
Evie has been a friend since they were four years old, and decided to donate her hair during the school holidays, before it was cut in January.
Meanwhile, friends Kadence and Alexis decided to donate a few weeks back before they too got the chop.
Kara-Lee’s support base is strong. Her brother, Travon and her father are growing their hair long enough to be cut for a donation.
Kara-Lee has even out aside 20cm of her own hair to be made into hats.
Proud mum, Leissa Buckton said while her daughter may still have moments of sadness about her hair loss, she has been keen to lift the veil on the condition in people her age.
“She can help other kids who might be feeling uncomfortable or conscious about it because our hair is an important part of our looks,” she said.
“The other girls all donated 36cm which was needed to make a wig.” Mother and daughter agreed “it may change your appearance but not your personality”.
A student at Vicki Davis Academy of Dance, young Kara-Lee said there was something about dancing which she fell in love with, and described it as a passion.
She would like to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, and could envisage herself dancing and acting in the future.
Meanwhile, another dear friend and studio owner Vicki Davis has watched over her students for some time with a smile on her face as strong friendships have grown.
“I think it’s marvellous the girls are supporting a friend, and Kara-Lee is a hard worker,” she said.
“By raising money, it means others can get money towards purchasing a wig.”
Ms Davis proudly shared that her dance studio had become a second family for many students and their loved ones.
“The kids get along, they learn and grow together,” she said.
Alopecia Areata is an auto-immune disease which causes partial or complete hair loss on the scalp and body.
It doesn’t discriminate against age, gender or race, however it is commonly presented during one’s childhood years.
If you would like to support the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation’s hair donation program, visit www.aaaf.org.au.
Feel inspired by visiting Kara-Lee’s page, Performing with Alopecia on Instagram.