The following letter has been edited for clarity and coherence.
I am heartbroken and I feel utterly helpless to help my daughter. She is 9 and a year ago she started losing her beautiful blond hair. It just fell out in clumps. I took her to the doctor and he diagnosed her with Alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that destroys hair follicles.
Nothing he could do could halt the hair loss, and soon her eyebrows vanished too. She was devastated and I did my best to bolster her self-confidence.
She is such a pretty child, and it breaks my heart to see her change from a happy bubbly girl to a shy diffident one.
I got her a wig, but it looked so "wrong" somehow, and she felt very uncomfortable in it, said it was hot and scratchy. She developed a rash and stopped wearing it.
The problem is that she is being bullied at school. When she first went back to school after her summer holidays and the hair loss was apparent, everyone thought she had cancer, and her hair loss was from chemo, so they were sympathetic at first.
But when she told them she didn't have cancer, and the hair loss became total, she became the butt of cruel jokes and constant harassment. They laugh at her and have nicknamed her "Gollum".
I spoke to her home-room teacher and she told me my daughter has to learn to stand up for herself, and that her interference will make things worse.
I want to call a meeting of her classmates' parents, tell them what is going on, what their precious children are doing to mine. I think only they can stop this, but I'm afraid that doing this I might indeed make things worse for her.
What should I do? How can I help my daughter? How can I protect her?
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