Thriving against the odds

24 March 2020 | Youth

Josephina Ankonga

“Thrive against the odds” said a wise man, and this is what Dylan Vries (18) has been doing ever since he was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata in 2014. Alopecia Areata is a condition that causes hair to fall out in small patches which can be unnoticeable, although they connect and become noticeable. This condition develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. For Dylan Vries it is a hereditary condition, as his cousin also suffers from the same condition, where hair falls off at all parts of the body. Other symptoms include stress, depression, increased susceptibility to secondary sicknesses or viruses, easily infected with infections and bold spots

When interviewed this is what he said:

How did you feel, when you first heard the news?

“At first it didn’t really have an effect on me, because I didn’t know what it was or why it was happening. As my hair started falling off that is when I realized it was real, and only then I started feeling insecure.

What effect did having Alopecia Areata on your life

“When I first noticed my hair falling, it was at school, when one of my friends told me that my hair was falling off. My hair started falling off in large amounts and that is when I decided to cut it all off and wear a beanie. In most cases when people see me in beanie, they start thinking that I have cancer, which is not true. Having to wear a beanie throughout all the years made me feel very insecure, people would continuously ask why I was wearing one even when it is hot. Some of my friends were also scared to be around me at first, as they thought my condition was contagious.”

What is the treatment you use?

“I use Corticosteroids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system, to help re-grow the hair more quickly”

FUN FACTS ABOUT DYLAN

Dylan likes to read, listen to music and also travel a lot in his free time. He attended school at CISB Canadian International School, from grade 8-10 and schooled in Russia from grade 2-5. He would like to become a physician/psychologist, and live in the Netherlands after finishing his studies, hopefully creating a new family there. He would also like to thank his mom for the continuous support she has given him. For caring for him at all times and making sure, he is always okay and ready to go.

His advice to anyone out there with Alopecia Areata, is that they should put themselves out there, share information with others about the condition, to decrease the criticism around it, and for them to join support groups, which help them build confidence in them, and have someone to talk to and share their experiences. “Try to get comfortable with the situation and make the best out of every moment”, he said in conclusion

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