When kids lose hair, wigs transform them into princesses, superheroes

Story highlights

  • The Magic Yarn Project makes soft wigs for children with cancer
  • The wigs are styled after superheroes and Disney princesses

(CNN)Maiya Lima was only 5 years old when her mother noticed a small bald patch on the back of her head. More patches began to appear in the weeks and months that followed in 2015.

Her mother, Emmanuela Lima, was anxious, but Maiya's doctor advised patience. By September 2015, half of Maiya's long, thick hair had fallen out.
Blood tests came back normal. Topical steroids did nothing to help regrow her hair. The family got a second opinion from another doctor, who thought it may have been related to her nervous system or the overuse of antibiotics that helped fight previous respiratory infections.
    In October and November, her eyelashes and eyebrows disappeared. After her 6th birthday, in December, Maiya lost the last of her hair. Emmanuela said it was the hardest thing she'd ever been through.
    Maiya was diagnosed with alopecia totalis, an autoimmune disease with no cure. Though it's possible that her hair may grow back one day, there has been very little growth since her diagnosis. She recently turned 8.
    "It's been a hard journey," Lima wrote in an email. "People staring really used to make her sad, or children pointing and commenting. She thought her hair would grow back and I think in a way, she still does. She walks around the majority of the time with her beautiful bald head on full display!"
    Wearing headbands has helped Maiya feel "girly," her mother said. But Lima found something even better when she discovered the Magic Yarn Project through an alopecia group on Facebook.