Living with alopecia: 'They'll see you're beautiful no matter what'

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Alopecia is a disease where you lose hair and may not be able to grow it back.

It can affect anyone at any age, and 22-year-old Wausau, Wisconsin native Allison Brill has lived with it for most of her life.

“I was first diagnosed with alopecia areata when I was 5 years old. My parents didn't really know what was happening, they just knew that I was losing my hair and they couldn't make it stop," said Brill.

Although diagnosed at a young age, Brill didn’t lose all her hair until later in life.

“My sophomore year of college, I lost all of my hair. It happened in about a six-month period. I went from having a full head of hair to having nothing. I was then diagnosed with alopecia universalis and I've been that way since,” she said.

Brill is open about the disease, and said becoming comfortable with herself and her condition has helped her to become strong.

“It was the best thing I ever did to decide to come out of my shell and be OK with who I am. It was not fun hiding, and now that I've told people about my alopecia, I found out how many people really do support me," said Brill.

A Newman alum, this is Brill’s first season coaching the junior varsity volleyball team at Newman Catholic High School in Wausau. She is also an assistant coach to the varsity team.

Head coach Betty Lange said the girls are all understanding of Brill’s condition.

“They are very accepting. And I think just because of who she is and her out - she's very outgoing, very bubbly and has a great personality and obviously very beautiful and the way that she interacts with everybody. I think they were just like 'wow that's really cool,'" said Lange.

And the players agree.

“Immediately thought she looked beautiful with hair and without, and I don't think that it matters. I mean, it's different but I think that it's still beautiful and that she wears it very well," said Lauren Nowinsky, captain of the JV team at Newman.

As for Brill, she gave advice for others.

“I know it’s hard having this disease and having to live this way. It's hard to get used to it, but you'll find people around you who love you and accept you the way you look and the way you are, and they'll see you're beautiful no matter what and those are the people you need to keep around," said Brill.

Brill does have a wig specially made for people with alopecia. She said she wears it often, it just depends on what kind of mood she’s in if she wears it or not.

Read the original version of this article at wsaw.com.