Kyra thought her biggest problem with her hair
was how to wear it on her big day
through a bridal magazine with my daughter, Rachel, 18, I felt spoilt for
choice. In just over six months, I'd be marrying Joe* (name changed), 33, in the town hall in
the beautiful Maltese capital of Valletta. We'd chosen it for its warm and
in the mirror, I played with my long strawberry-blonde hair. 'Should I wear it
up or down?' I asked Rachel. 'Mum,
you've asked me that so many times,' she laughed. 'You have beautiful hair.
It'd look best up, with a tiara.' I'd
met Joe four years earlier in 1999, at the parcel delivery company we both
worked at. I was a line supervisor.
attraction was instant -and mutual. Whenever I was near him, I felt like I'd
been plugged in at the mains. Within weeks, we were
spending every spare moment together. We soon decided to rent a one-bedroom
flat in Huddersfield. And, nearly two years after we'd started dating,
Joe said, 'I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Kyra. Let's get
Ecstatic, I agreed, and he pulled a beautiful
diamond engagement ring out of its box. I
think I'd prefer a small, intimate affair,' Joe said. 'Just the two of
us.' 'Let's get married abroad,' I suggested.
saving hard for two years, we finally had the £5,000 we needed to pay for
everything. So, we booked the service for 15 August 2005. Next, we bought our
air fares. We didn't invite any guests. Instead, we planned to pull a couple of
witnesses in off the street. We
decided to choose a hotel nearer the time.
I'd been married
before, to Rachel's father, Jim*(name changed), but it didn't work
out This time, though, I knew it was for keeps. But
the preparations started getting to Joe. 'You're doing my head in,
moaned one day in February 2005. 'All you talk about these days is dresses and
just looking forward to the wedding,' I protested. 'Well,
I've had enough of if he snapped.
heart lurched. It
was so out of the blue.
then on, Joe started going to the pub after work, leaving me sitting at home
alone. Feeling wretched, I'd text him every evening, but he wouldn't reply. When he came home -mostly late - he'd flop
into bed without a word. Making love wasn't on the
agenda, either, even though our sex life
had been amazing before. I
was sure he was up to no good... But I had no proof. Then, at the end of that month, he announced,
'I just don't love you any more.' Despite
my tears and pleading, he packed his bags and left. Shortly
afterwards, I found out that he was seeing a barmaid from the pub. I sobbed
until I had no tears left.
tried to console me, but I was heartbroken. 'He got cold feet,'I wailed.
For weeks, I was unable to eat or sleep
left his job, so at least I managed to avoid bumping into him at work.
Within four months, I'd lost 2st and had
shrunk from a size 12 to an eight. Even my beautiful hair looked lank and
August, the month we'd planned to marry I was a self-pitying mess.
night, I came home from work and ran a bath. Yanking the elastic
my pony tail, it came away knotted with strands of blonde hair. Sinking
into the warm water, I reflected on my miserable life. Then,
as I towelled myself dry, I noticed more wet strands of hair plastered against
where my head had been resting. 'That's strange,' I thought. Over the next few
days, I noticed more hair loss.
At first it was a handful of strands on my
pillow. Then more hair than usual, knotted around my hairbrush.
Then it became
more obvious - huge lumps blocking the plughole in the shower and thick tufts
lying on the carpet. Panicking,
I went to the doctor, who said it would probably grow back. But within weeks, the
bald patches had grown and actually joined
together as one. I'd
lost all my hair.
After being forced to wear scarves to cover
my bald head, the doctor referred me to
Huddersfield Hospital. Tests revealed I had stress-related alopecia, a skin disorder that caused hair loss. 'There's a
chance it will grow back,' the consultant said. 'But I'm afraid there are no
guarantees.' Weeks later, I was applying mascara when I
had another shock. My eyelashes were falling out' 'Oh, God; I cried.
I'd lost every hair on my body - even my nasal hair.
least I needn't worry about shaving my legs,' I joked to Rachel.
But inside I was crying. My face was like a blank canvas - it was as
if someone had rubbed me out. I
tried to make the best of myself, getting eyebrows tattooed on and wearing
false eyelashes and a long, blonde wig. But I didn't feel like me.
was several months before I had the courage to join the girls from work on a
night out There, I spotted a gorgeous bloke standing at the bar. He had dark
hair and twinkly blue eyes. We
chatted all night and, at the end of the evening, he asked me out on a
date. But a few nights later, when we met in a pub,
I confessed. T-there's
something I have to tell you...' I stuttered. 'I
wear a wig. I lost all I my
hair. I hope that doesn't bother you.' His face fell. I'll need time to think about
it, he replied. 'Well, take the rest of your life,' I
snapped, storming out
That night, I sobbed myself to sleep. My
confidence was at rock bottom. 'I just want to feel like a woman again,' I
thought miserably. Two
years passed, and I tried to get used to my new look. But it
was difficult In the summer, my wig felt unbearably hot and
will have to get used to me like this,' I told my bald reflection
nothing prepared me for the stares and sniggers whenever I ventured out without
evening, I was at home when I heard a couple arguing loudly on the balcony
you keep the noise down?'
I pleaded, poking my head out of the window. 'Mind
your own business, you bald cow!' yelled the woman. I turned back into the room, tears stinging
my face. Looking
in the mirror that night with my saggy chin, droopy eyelids and bald head, I
looked 72, not 52.
The next morning, I went online and found a
website advising people who wanted cosmetic surgery I called the number and spoke to a woman
called Linda. 'I want to look like me again,' I said. Linda
explained that an ordinary
face-lift was out of the question because the scars are hidden along the
hairline - and I didn't have one. But
she put me in touch with a surgeon in Budapest, Hungary who'd developed a
technique to hide any tell-tale marks behind the ears. I
could have a face- and neck-lift and an upper and lower eye job for £4,600 -
half the price of the same procedure in the UK.
paid for it on my credit card there and then. It was a lot of money, but I
planned to put £400 a month from my earnings at the mailing company aside to
pay it off . I flew out on 8 June last year by myself, and
was wheeled into theatre the next day. During the four-hour op, the surgeon cut
around my ear and pulled up the saggy skin around my neck. She tucked it behind
my earlobes and tightened the skin across my cheekbones. Then she removed the
flabby flesh from my eyelids.
When I came round, my face was throbbing and
felt horribly tight. Had
it worked? Five
days later, the bandages came off, and the row of staples behind each ear were
amazing!' I said, choked. Despite the bruising, my face looked younger and
firmer. 'Mum!' Rachel beamed when I got back to
Huddersfield. 'You look 20 years younger!' Walking
back into the office a few days later, I wasn't sure if anyone would notice.
But everyone did a double-take. 'Wow,' one male colleague
cooed. 'You look stunning. What
have you had done?' No
one could believe the difference.
Its now been eight months since the op, and
I'm still on a high. It's really boosted my confidence. I've had my blonde wig
cut into trendy layers, and I'm enjoying experimenting with new make-up.
last week, I was walking down the street when some builders wolf-whistled at me
'Oi, oi, blondie!' they shouted. 'Sexy lady!' It was cheeky of them, but it did
give me a lift. I'm not sure if, or when, my hair will grow
back. But I've decided not to worry about it. 'Life's too short, Mum,' Rachel tells me.
'You're already fending men off with a stick! What more could you want?'
right of course. I should be happy with what I've got now. Besides, my credit card still needs paying
off, so expensive holidays, clothes and further beauty treatments are out of
the question anyway! Having a new face is enough to satisfy me. At
last, I feel like a real woman again. And now I know that whatever life throws
at me, I will survive!
Kyra Newton, 53,
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
For advice on surgery abroad, visit
Polly Clarkson and Carolin Reid