My name is Lisa Echert and I am a 26 year old Seattle native who has had Alopecia for the past 18 years. I attended the University of Washington and received my Bachelor's degree in Sociology, while also working part-time Parks & Recreation positions in the surrounding areas. This ultimately led to my current position as Recreation Leader for City of Issaquah Parks & Recreation, which I absolutely love.
As someone who mostly works with kids/teens and wants to be a positive role model for them, I've made it a goal to always live confidently, transparently and spread love and encouragement to all.
This is what I instantly felt when I attended the Alopecia Support Group’s “More Than My Hair” Retreat in September, 2018. I felt at home with myself. Among these strangers who just happened to look like me, share similar stories as me, and genuinely love on me, revealed that my Alopecia journey matters. This launched a positive regime of self-care and renewed passion to advocate for Alopecia.
Being part of the Alopecia Support Group's Leadership Team has ignited my fire of self-discovery, strengthened my accountability as a teammate, and has blessed me with lifetime friendships. I have many roles and hats I wear in life, but one I am so deeply proud and honored by is the role of Alopecia Ambassador.
The day I was introduced to alopecia was the summer of 2006. I had married my wife in August of 2005 and I accepted a new job with the University of Washington January 2006. I was a mail carrier delivering mail on and off UW campus sites. I was on a six month probationary period which was standard. However, management started created a very hostile work environment and the person who was receiving the worst end of it was yours truly. Management there made sure to attack and treat me unfairly by any means necessary. My direct supervisors as well as my indirect supervisors made sure to “give me the business”. They would write me up for any and everything imaginable. You name it they wrote it talking to co-workers they wrote it, not talking to co-workers they wrote it, whistling they wrote it. YES !! you read it right whistling I was written up for it. If I accidentally took truck keys home even though I would call and notify them about it, they had the papers written up and waiting for me to sign first thing in the morning.
Coming to work didn’t have the same enjoyment it had when I was in the Navy doing the same task. I would come to work angry, and just shut down. I will even go so far to say I really hated them and that is such a strong thing to say but hey they was messing with my spirit and my well-being. To which my well – being was taking a turn for the worst. I started noticing that when I would scratch my head I always felt a bold spot. What I’m about to say next is going to sound really odd but at that time I didn’t pay it no mind. I just thought its hair it will grow back. Then as time went on I noticed a second bald spot again I didn’t think it was nothing serious because it was just hair. Well, my wife and I was watching TV and she just happened to look at my head and noticed one of the spots had gotten extremely big. She told me you need to go and take a look in the mirror because your head doesn’t look right.
I went to the bathroom and she handed me a mirror to see areas in the back of my head. Instead of the two spots that I was able to see 2 more on the back developed. I was literally lost for words I didn’t know what to say to her at that moment she said you need to make an appointment to see a doctor. My doctor referred me to a dermatologist but being how dermatologist are such in high demand I was booked to see her 4 months later. By this time the spots had gotten so big that they were connecting with the other spots. My hair loss was getting worse by the minute. The dermatologist then hit me with bad news that I’ve never heard before. She told me that I have alopecia areata. She explained to me that my immune system is attacking my hair follicles. She also mentioned there is no 100% cure to stop it but there are treatments. My dermatologist explained to me that I can take steroid shots into the affected areas. I was also recommended to use Rogaine in addition to the shots.