And though you may never know it, you might have listened to Voron's voice on the outgoing message of a local business. She has made a side business out of recording voicemail systems for small businesses all around the country.
With her career advancing and the future looking bright, little did Voron know that she would need to tap her own coping expertise once more when, 10 years after being diagnosed with alopecia, she found herself battling ulcerative colitis.
“I’ve never felt more horrible in my life,” she says of the symptoms of the ulcerative colitis flare-up she experienced in 2007. Voron dealt with extreme pain, uncontrollable bowels, bloating, weakness, dehydration, and all of the emotional side effects of such an overwhelming autoimmune disease. “Alopecia is a piece of cake compared with colitis,” she says.
Ultimately, after a four-year struggle with ulcerative colitis, Voron opted to have her colon removed, and has since then enjoyed a relatively normal and overall healthy life. “Having my colon removed in a two-part surgery in 2011 was a carefully thought out decision that ultimately saved my life,” she says.
Sharing Her Story
Now, with two illnesses overcome, Voron’s belief that everything happens for a reason has been firmly solidified, and she’s overwhelmingly motivated to help others struggling with chronic conditions.
“Having gone through both of those things—one so physical and one cosmetic—I have a lot of stories to share,” says Voron. “Since I lost my hair, I’ve really been an advocate for overcoming obstacles and tough times in life. I’ve always wanted to be an expert on coping and to lend my experiences to guide others,” she says.
On a daily basis, Voron’s choice to not wear a wig and leave her head bare offers up the chance to share and engage with others, all of whom, Voron has learned, have a story to tell. “Many choose to wear a wig, or to cover up their scalp, but it’s much more comfortable for me to be who I am and not to cover up,” she says. “By baring it all, it makes me more secure.”
By not wearing a wig, Voron leaves herself open to both curious strangers and those looking to connect, most often about an experience with cancer. “I started to realized that with each of these approaches, the vast majority of the time it was somebody who wanted to connect and then share their own story,” she says. “And if I just stood there for one minute, or four minutes, or sometimes 10 minutes and chatted with this person about their story—and most of the time just listened—it was the most empowering, humbling, extraordinary moment to be able to do that for that person.”
At her core, Voron feels privileged by the interactions. “I feel that I have been awarded an incredible honor to be trusted with such intensely personal stories. These encounters are the greatest gifts I have received from losing my hair.”
Teaching Others How to Cope
Beyond her daily interactions, Voron is taking the next steps towards embracing a role as a coping expert through blogging for Everyday Health
, The Huffington Post
, and for her own blog, The Good, The Bad and the Snuggly
. She has also enjoyed motivational speaking engagements with the likes of The National Alopecia Areata Foundation, The Susan G. Komen Foundation, Bloomberg, Inc, and her own charity organization, Bald Dolls 4 Bald Kids
. “It’s really what I felt I was meant to do,” she says.
“I have a very positive outlook on how to get through crises,” says Voron, who is driven by the realization that she can help others by sharing her experiences and being open about her struggles both in person and online. “I think that those stories and those tools would be great to share with others. I’m not saying it’s the only way, but my way is worth sharing,” she says.
Obviously, there are thousands who agree. Voron’s post Why I’m Finally Sharing the Photos I Hid For Years
went viral, receiving attention on Everyday Health
, then The Huffington Post
, and finally running on the Yahoo! homepage for 24 hours. In the post, Voron says, “I revealed insecurities about my appearance that I had been hiding for 20 years, and I shared photos of myself without eye makeup, in which all of those insecurities were highlighted.”
The bravery to reveal her vulnerabilities resonated with millions, and only served to set Voron forward on a course towards placing her self-affirming coping methods within the reach of anyone in need. “I feel like I’m organically taking my career and my experiences at Shipley and using them to do what I’ve always really wanted to do, which is help other people and guide other people through tough times,” she says.
For now, though, the next steps are yet to be taken and Voron is more than happy to enjoy life in Westchester, New York with her supportive husband, Mike, and their daughter, Joey Love. “Life is good,” says Voron.