I was diagnosed with alopecia areata when I was 24 years old. I started getting round bald patches and was told by my dermatologist that it was likely caused by stress. When I was 30 years old I lost all of my hair. I had never heard of alopecia areata before I was diagnosed and did not know anyone else who had it. I looked around for support groups in the Toronto area and found out about a picnic being held for people with alopecia areata. From that picnic CANAAF was born. I have had the privilege of being on the Board of Directors from the beginning. I became the president of CANAAF in late 2012 and have been working with the Board to transition CANAAF from a Toronto area organization to a national one. I am focused on bringing CANAAF support groups across Canada. I have received tremendous support from the Toronto support groups and I hope that CANAAF support groups can be available to anyone who needs it. CANAAF is an organization I hold close to my heart. We have wonderful members and volunteers who keep us energized and moving forward.
My son was diagnosed with alopecia areata just after starting Kindergarten. I recognized the need for support in Canada, when realizing there was nowhere in the Toronto area to turn to. Having met alopecia areata patients and their families, I began to run support group meetings and some awareness events, which led to co-founding CANAAF! Meetings were structured to promote acceptance within, and as a community together, and I am thrilled with the direction and enthusiasm of our new Board of Directors. I have worked in many areas, including events coordinating and have been a support group leader for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation since 2007. I truly hope CANAAF can help you, or the person you know, who is affected by alopecia areata.
Secretary and Chair of Fundraising & Events Committee
My name is Tara Luisser, member of the Board of Directors, Secretary, Events Chair for CANAAF, mother of 3. I have been involved with CANAAF since it’s inception and the Toronto support groups before that. My 11 year old daughter, Presley, has lived with alopecia universalis since she was 5. It is a priority in my life to ensure that she has all the support and encouragement in both the medical community as well as her personal, everyday life. My background in sales and marketing has provided me with the necessary tools to help CANAAF move to the next level of awareness, both regionally and nationally. Additionally, I have been involved in planning social events on larger scales since high school days! At the root is my determination to give my daughter the tools and support she needs to handle this disease with grace, humour and dignity and hope that she can be a champion for others in the future.
Treasurer and Chair of Heads Up Committee
When I was a young girl, my mum was diagnosed with alopecia areata; little did I know that sixteen years later I would also be diagnosed at age 26. As a young policewoman just beginning my career, I thought there would be support for individuals with alopecia in Toronto. I quickly learned that there was little support in the community, but I did not let that deter my resolve not to allow alopecia control my life. I may not have been able to control my hair loss, but I could control my response to how alopecia affected my life. Over the years I grew to know who I was as a woman and my worth was more than my hair.
In 2008, I was asked to speak to a group of adults about living my life as an Inspector with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with alopecia totalis. From that presentation, I had the privilege of being one of the original members of the Board of Directors of CANAAF. I am the Treasurer for CANAAF, as well as an adult support group leader in Toronto Chapter. My passion is to listen to adults share their journey of dealing with alopecia, provide encouragement, support and resources, so that they will have a full and incredible life living with alopecia. I coordinate CANAAF’s Heads Up Program, which provides funding for those who have financial challenges in purchasing a hair piece. I am always on the search for great resources that will support individuals with alopecia: funky hats, scarfs, hair pieces, accessory businesses, permanent make-up and henna artists.
It is exciting to be part of CANAAF, to see it grow and develop into a progressive organization that will serve alopecians across Canada and around the world through our chapters and social media endeavors.
Hi Everyone! I am so glad that you are taking the time to reach out and read the CANAAF page! There are definitely many caring and helpful people on this board that are willing to go that extra mile to answer questions, provide information and create events to bring the Canadian alopecia community together!
Just a little about myself – I am First Nations, married, mother of 2 (Isabella 11 and Ethan and from a small, rural town in Northwestern Ontario called Sioux Lookout (the most beautiful place on earth! . I have been aware of alopecia since I was a teenager, when both myself and a cousin developing small coin shaped bald spots on our head. Then my sister had the same coin shaped bald spots through her twenties. This experience gave me knowledge of alopecia, but did not prepare me when my 2 year old daughter lost all her hair within days.
Since I live in a rural area of northern Ontario, when my daughter lost her hair my husband and I could only turn to the internet for information and support. I also have family that have taken Isabella to alopecia events in the summer, driving as far as Washington and Texas. I always thought it was important to have ties to the alopecia community for Isabella. As a CANAAF Board member I would love to bring these ties closer to home, and so I am looking forward to developing strategies for how CANAAF can bring support to people, especially children in rural and remote areas of the provinces and territories.
If you have any suggestions or questions or would like to help in any way, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s to building the Canadian alopecia community!
I discovered spots and was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata days before my 18th birthday, 35 years ago already! Even though I was diagnosed correctly, there was no information readily available and… at that time… no Internet.
Ten years later, my then new dermatologist – whom I visited once a month for injections – asked me if I wanted to help start a support group in Montreal. I was honored to be asked, and this changed my life! I became a founding member of the Quebec Alopecia Areata Foundation in 1989. We held monthly support group meetings for many years. I also attended many NAAF conferences. Both were eye openers.
I work for an engineering firm as an administrative assistant. In the last few years, I’ve travelled to project sites in Liberia, Uruguay and Morocco, as well as another part of our home and native land – Bethune, Saskatchewan, all without wearing a wig! That is my kind of awareness.
I was part of John Rich’s project People who Stare, a powerful tool for Alopecia awareness.
I am a budding photographer and, in my “old age” am very interested in fitness and nutrition.
Mary Catherine Anderson
I have been a patient with Alopecia Universalis for more than 16 years. I have been volunteering with CANAAF for a few years and have met so many kind and fantastic patients, parents and family members within the Alopecia community.
I am a chef and recipe developer working in Toronto.
I write and develop recipes for culinary instruction at St Lawrence Market Kitchen, Nella Cucina and The Big Carrot, among other clients. I collaborate with chefs and cookbook writers to create and improve recipes.
I am so excited share our message of hope and acceptance with the digital community and to join the Board of CANAAF as the Social Media Director.
My daughter, Sara, was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata in 2003 when she was 6 years old. When the doctor told us what it was I had never even heard of alopecia before! 4 years later, when she was 10, all her hair fell out in a matter of a couple of weeks and eventually she ended up with Alopecia
Universalis. She has been wearing a wig every since. At that time there were no support groups in the Toronto area so I gathered information from the
American website, NAAF. It mentioned a “Meet & Greet” in Toronto with Charlie Villaneauva and the Toronto Raptors Basketball Team. I was anxious
for my daughter to connect with other children and families going through the same thing we were, so I signed up right away. That was in 2008. We have
been attending meetings and events every since and have watched CANAAF grow from the beginning. As a “Parent of a Child with Alopecia” I decided to join the CANAAF Board in the hope of being able to help other parents who are also struggling trying to help their children deal with this disease on a
day to day basis. My daughter just finished her first year at university and is now helping CANAAF as well with the Kids and Teens Groups at various
events. I am happy to be part of this wonderful organization and hope that in turn, I can help you and your family in some way, as it has helped mine.
Hello from the East Coast! I’m Melissa and I live with my husband and two
boys in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’m thrilled to be a member of the CANAAF
Board of Directors.
After 26 years with alopecia areata, I gave up wearing a wig in 2014. It was
the best decision I’d ever made! For the first time in my life, I felt like I
could just be me. It was only a few months later, my son Jacob, who was five
at the time, was also diagnosed with alopecia.
The support of our family and friends has been amazing, and in discovering
CANAAF, our circle of support widened even more. Until CANAAF was
established, there hadn’t been any support group here for many years. I’m
looking forward to connecting with people closer to home!
Hi there, my name is Jared Nicholls and I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I work as a security officer in one of the largest hospitals in Canada. I am 24 years old and have been living with Alopecia Universalis since I was approximately 4 years old.
I can remember first losing all of my hair when I was 12 and the feeling of complete helplessness that came with it. At that time, support groups, conferences or any support at all didn’t really exist except for that from my own family and friends. I am beyond excited to be volunteering with CANAAF and to be able to provide support for anyone who needs it, whether it be children, adults or parents. I know first-hand just how important it is to have someone to talk to when you are going through something traumatic such as partial or complete hair loss. This organization is a great support tool and is run by an amazing group of people and I am very proud to be able to sit on the board.