In primary school most girls are fussing about whether to have their hair in a braid or a pony tail, not contemplating life with no hair.
We all take the hair on our head for granted. And it's not until you lose all of it that you realise how important it is, especially if you're 9 years old.
Willow was going to a party, a disco party. As I was brushing her hair I noticed clumps of hair coming out in my hands and I just thought this isn't normal," says Willows' mum, Maria,
Willow Cossill went from having long brown locks to no hair at all, none on her head, no eyelashes or eyebrows. Her whole body was bald. It took two weeks.
Willow suffers from an extreme form of alopecia. A rare skin disease which results in hair loss, except Willow's whole body was left bald and told the chances of it growing back were nil.
As her hair disappeared so did her friends. Suddenly Willow's once social life was spent inside her bedroom.
"I thought that I was gonna be bald forever and I wouldn't have any friends," says Willow.
"It broke my heart everyday dropping her off to school. After I'd drop her off to school I'd just burst into tears and I'd have to drive to work and I'd cry all the way," says Maria.
Maria tried everything. Bush doctors, dermatologists, hair specialists, determined her daughter wouldn't have to wear a wig for the rest of her life.
"The last specialist we went to was a dermatologist and we were told 0.01% chance," says Maria.
But then came a chance meeting with naturopath Alfonse Papalia who recommended an alternative treatment, Chinese herbal medicine.
"It addresses the systems of the body as opposed to a band aid approach or a symptomatic approach, so Chinese medicine is quite interesting.
Willow was put on a combination of a multivitamin and a women's balance vitamin. After 2 years of searching for answers, results came in 2 weeks.
"I said Willow you've got a bit of dirt on your head and went to rub it and it was 5 little black hairs. The joy, I just about screamed!" says Maria.
The theory behind it works like this. With alopecia, nutrients that are normally fed to the hair follicles are starved so the hair dies and falls out.
"The women's hair nourishes and invigorates the blood and in turn once the blood is nourished it will feed the hair follicles as happened in Willow's case," explains Alfonse.
The herbs have just changed her life.
Alfonse claims to have helped pre and post menopausal women with hair loss. He believes men with alopecia could benefit too.
It would give people who would not normally have hope, hope.
"She's just... you're happy aren't you... yes mm... yes very."
Well it's now been 10 months since willow's hair has started to grow back and today is a big day. She's decided to head back to the hairdressers. It'll be the first time with her REAL hair in 3 years.
The brave 12 year old now has most of her hair back and her life. She can go outside, back to her favourite places.
But not all sufferers are so lucky. Many stay bald for life. Alopecia foundations and organisations in Australia maintain to this day there's still no cure.
"I just know it's helped us and keep searching yeah, keep searching, don't give up," says Maria.
You can find the same treatment at health food stores. Interestingly alopecia affects around 10,000 people in Australia. Alfonse believes Willow's treatment could help cure them all.
Willow was taking: Fusion Health Womens' Balance $39.50 for 60 tabs and Fusion Health Multi-vitamin and Mineral Advanced, $34.50 for 60 tabs.
Global Therapeutics Pty Ltd t/a Fusion Health and Oriental Botanicals
Ph: 1800 550 103