Michigan woman with hair condition has an inspiring message
"Marjorie McAllister, who prefers to be called Jo, began losing her hair very early in life. Did kids tease you?" WXYZ's chief health editor Dr. Partha Nandi said.
"Oh, yes. They would pull them off. And you know how when you're little, kids pull off your winter caps and play 'monkey in the middle?'" Jo McAllister said.
For most of her life, Jo McAllister from Brighton, Michigan, has been living with the various stages of a condition known as alopecia.
According to WebMD, people with alopecia experience hair loss after their "immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, which is where hair growth begins."
"It changed from alopecia areata, which is, you know, just spots of hair loss with my scalp," McAllister told WXYZ.
"Then it progressed, turning into ..." Nandi said.
"Alopecia totalis, which was then total hair loss on my head. I still had my eyelashes, my eyebrows. But total hair loss on my head," McAllister said.
Then, McAllister's alopecia totalis turned into alopecia universalis, meaning she no longer has any hair on her body.
The National Alopecia Areata Foundation predicts more than 4.5 million Americans -- or 2 percent of the population -- will be affected by some form of the disease in their lifetimes.
While there is a chance people with alopecia will have their hair grow back, there is currently no known cure for the disease.
McAllister spoke with WXYZ about the advice she had for anyone suffering from alopecia.
"Be your most true self. Be who you are. Be strong. If people are teasing you, don't let that get you down," McAllister said.