“I didn’t want her to struggle alone.”

Families are there to help support one another through life’s toughest times without being asked to do so.

Families that shave together, stay together. Isn’t that the saying?

A young Philadelphia girl has been inspiring her family and her community with her resilience and indomitable spirit as she battles a medical condition causing her to lose her hair.

A Rare Disease for a Girl So Young

Up until a couple of years ago, eight-year-old Savannah Brown had never had any health concerns. But after she contracted COVID-19, Savannah’s mom, Ruqayyah Qaiyim, said her daughter’s immune system didn’t properly recover. Savannah was sick all summer and once school began again, her hair began falling out in huge patches.

Savannah was diagnosed with alopecia areata, is an autoimmune disease that causes one’s immune system to attack their body, and in this case, the hair follicles. This inner onslaught causes hair to begin falling out, often in clumps the size of a quarter.

For some, the disease causes hair loss in only in a few spots but for others, the hair loss can include all the hair on the head (alopecia areata totalis) or the entire body (alopecia areata universalis).

Alopecia areata is an erratic disease. For some people, their hair will grow back but fall out again later. In others, their hair grows back normally and stays that way. Every case is unique. It is rare for someone as young as Savannah to have the disease, and unfortunately it has caused every strand of Savannah’s hair to fall out.

The Support of an Incredible Family

From the beginning of Savannah’s health ordeal, Ruqayyah promised her daughter that if she lost all her hair, she would shave her hair, too. And she did just that!

“It was just like ‘OMG,’ I have an amazing family that supports me in a really awesome way,” Savannah told Good Day Philadelphia. “Not a lot of moms would do that, and my mom is special to me. Really special.”

But Savannah’s family wasn’t done sharing their support for Savannah just yet!

Steven Mack, Savannah’s father, picked her up from school with a big surprise – he pulled down his hoodie to reveal that he had shaved his head, too!

Steven said that the deed was important not just to show his support for Savannah and Ruqayyah, but to challenge what we consider beautiful in our society. He felt it was important to disconnect from the idea of what the world defines as beauty.

“It kind of helped Savannah realize that real beauty is designed by your character,” he said.

Nope … Savannah’s family wasn’t done yet! Savannah’s grandmother and aunt both shaved their heads, as well!

“I didn’t want her to struggle alone,” said her aunt. “I wanted to understand what she was going through.”

Shouldering the Weight Together

The entire family made a television appearance on Good Day Philadelphia to share their story two months after Savannah’s diagnosis. As a surprise, Savannah’s great aunt, Monica Gibson, shaved her head on live television to further show her support the young girl.

“Savannah is amazing. She has so much courage”, Gibson said.

Savannah was both moved, and stunned, at the overwhelming support that so many of her family members have given her to help shoulder the weight of her disorder together.

“I am just still in shock to see how many people shaved it to support me this way. I never really thought this would happen,” Savannah said.

We are all more powerful when we empower one another.