Six-year-old with alopecia writes children's book to help kids with hair loss
A six-year-old girl has written her debut book about her journey with alopecia.
Little Deléna Thompson was just four when she started losing her hair and was diagnosed with the condition. It was a tough thing to come to terms with, but now she wants to share her story to help other children.
I Am Not My Hair is a heartwarming illustrated book that tells Deléna’s story, and is dedicated to all children who have ever felt different.
‘Even though I don’t have any hair, I am still me,’ reads the book.
Deléna was supported in writing the book by her mum Telena Longmore, and she and Deléna’s father Delvin Thompson, from Haringey, north London, say they are ‘extremely proud’ of their little girl.
‘We are proud of Deléna being able to talk and write about her experiences from her own perspective,’ they say. ‘Deléna is an inspiration to us all. She is an incredibly talented, determined and kind young girl. We often have to remind ourselves that she is only six years old.’
Deléna was diagnosed with alopecia in 2019, after her mum found a coin-sized patch with no hair on her scalp. As the hair loss got worse, Deléna was sent to a specialist who told her that soon her hair would all be gone, and it may never grow back.
This made her ‘very sad’, and she worried how her friends at school would react.
When the bald patches became impossible to style or cover up, Deléna’s mum suggested that they shave it all off. She even shaved her own head first so her daughter wouldn’t feel so alone.
Going back to school with no hair was scary for Deléna, and the other children stared at her at first. But with support from her parents and teachers, she was able to follow her mantra: ‘I am brave, I am smart, I am beautiful’ – which helped her to feel confident and happy.
‘I wanted to write a book so I could share what it was like lose my hair,’ Deléna tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I feel OK about having alopecia because I’ve learnt about why I have it and I know that having alopecia can not stop me.
‘I want people to be aware of alopecia and I want people to stop bullying people who have this condition, or look different. I want anyone who feels or looks different to know that they are not alone. They are loved and they will always have a friend in me.’
The book is to be published by BlakJac Media, a company founded by former deputy headteacher Juliet Coley after surviving cancer. It’s the only publishing house in Europe that specialises in publishing books written by Black children.
Juliet was inspired to ask Deléna to write a book after meeting her. She explains: ‘There are so many books out there about young Black girls embracing their beautiful and natural hair and after learning of Deléna’s hair journey I was impressed by the courage and strength she exhibited having none and thought her story would make a great book.
‘I’ve experienced hair loss myself. When I underwent chemotherapy for colon cancer I found the experience traumatic, so when I met Deléna, and heard about the positive way she dealt with it, I had nothing but admiration for her.’
I Am Not My Hair by Deléna Thompson, supported by Telena Longmore and illustrated by Malika-Zaynah Grant, is out on November 1, but you can pre-order your copy online.
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