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How I embraced going bald - Fakenham woman on living with alopecia

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 January 2018

Fakenham greengrocer Kim Starling chatting to Sheringham High School head boy Peter Awad about her experience of having Alopecia. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Fakenham greengrocer Kim Starling chatting to Sheringham High School head boy Peter Awad about her experience of having Alopecia. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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An inspirational Fakenham woman has opened up about her experiences of living with alopecia.

Fakenham greengrocer Kim Starling (centre) accepting a cheque on behalf of Alopecia UK from (from left): Sheringham High School deputy head Jayne Melhuish, head boy Peter Awad, head girl Alice Alexander and Year 11 student Jodie Claxton. Photo: KAREN BETHELLFakenham greengrocer Kim Starling (centre) accepting a cheque on behalf of Alopecia UK from (from left): Sheringham High School deputy head Jayne Melhuish, head boy Peter Awad, head girl Alice Alexander and Year 11 student Jodie Claxton. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Kim Starling spoke to students at Sheringham High School about the condition.

Ms Starling, who runs a greengrocers and florist in Swaffham, woke up one morning last year to find she had lost 30pc of her hair overnight.

Over the following month, she lost all her remaining hair, as well as her eyelashes and eyebrows.

“I will never forget the day it happened,” she explained. “It had been an incredibly busy time at work with a lot of stress, so I was really expecting to go to the doctor and to be told it was curable with treatment.”

But, after seeing a specialist, Ms Starling was diagnosed with alopecia universalis, a severe form of the condition characterised by complete loss of hair on the scalp and body.

“I was completely shocked for about 24 hours, but I just got on with things and it wasn’t until a bride who was completely bald came into the shop for a consultation that it was really brought home to me,” she said.

“It made me realise that I would be like that in a few weeks and, driving home, I was in floods of tears.”

However, Ms Starling’s distress was short-lived and after embracing her lack of hair, she began to see the positive side of being bald.

“I decided I was going to accept it was unlikely to grow back and make the most of it as there is nothing worse than the agony of hope – that’s what keeps you awake at night,” she explained.

“I don’t feel it’s the end of the world and although my customers were concerned as they thought I had cancer, people don’t pay quite as much attention as you think they do.”

Sheringham High School students raised nearly £2,000 for hair loss charity Alopecia UK.

School council members, who ran events ranging from a talent show and a teachers’ football tournament, to a lip synching battle and a ‘man versus food’ eating contest, presented a cheque to Ms Starling.

Ms Starling, who speaks to trainee doctors about her experiences as a member of an expert patient programme, thanked Sheringham staff and students for their efforts.

“What they have done is incredible, not just in terms of raising money, but also in raising awareness,” she said.

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