Diagnosed Before 40: TGIN Founder & Breast Cancer Survivor Shares Her Story
BDO: Describe your treatment plan and experience with chemotherapy.
CD: I had a lumpectomy, followed by 8 rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation. My doctors were extremely aggressive with their choice of treatment given my age. In older women, they tend to only do a lumpectomy and radiation, if the size of the mass is small, because of their shorter life expectancy.
In terms of the side effects, the biggest thing is extreme fatigue and mild nausea. Although I’ve never been pregnant before, I would say it is akin to a really awful pregnancy. I basically dealt with the side effects by taking it easy and resting a lot.
BDO: With hair and beauty being such a large part of what you do, were you concerned about losing your hair?
CD: Of course, I was really nervous about losing my hair, especially since I run a hair care company. I’m supposed to be out there being the face of this hair care company, wheeling and dealing, and spreading knowledge of all things natural, so I felt a little nervous at times donning a wig. But it’s all good. I’ve never had any major issues or anyone say anything to me too crazy. The natural community has also shown me nothing but love since learning of my diagnosis.
Now product development is a different story. I’m the primary tester of our products before they are released for testing by a group and so I was in a real crunch to expedite our product development cycle in order to develop our Edge Control and Curl Bomb Moisturizing Styling Gel before I had to shave my head for treatment.
Now, that my hair is growing back, it’s back to the same old testing. But my hair is a little different now and I’m waiting to see if it will go back to its old texture.
BDO: What are some things you did that helped you stay encouraged?
CD: When I was first diagnosed and going through treatment, I would often “lurk” (okay maybe “stalk”) on the pages of people going through breast cancer treatment. Most people were extremely positive, and I would kind of live vicariously through their pictures, which allowed me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
BDO: What advice can you share to women who may be newly diagnosed, or have a feeling something isn’t right but are afraid to bring it up to their doctor?
CD: Advancements in cancer treatment have come a really long way. If caught early, breast cancer is a treatable disease and is not a death sentence. The important thing is to know your breasts, stay in tune with your body, and talk to your doctor if you experience any major changes.
Also, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut. If you don’t feel like your doctor is giving you the best advice, seek a second opinion.
BDO: What’s next for you and for TGIN?
CD: The plan is to continue to focus on building and growing the business. Next year, we’ll be in more Target and Sally Beauty stores, plus we’re making a foray into the drug store market by launching in Walgreen’s, CVS and Rite Aid.
Given the overwhelming feedback to my story on Instagram, I’m writing a book called This is Only a Test: What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Love, Hair, Faith and Business.
BDO: Do you have a deeper appreciation for what makes you beautiful internally after this whole process?
CD: I sure do. Now, I’m much more conscious of my internal spirit and how that is so much more important than the hair we have (or don’t have) and the makeup we wear.
WATCH: Chris-Tia Donaldson Shares Her Breast Cancer Journey[bc_video video_id=”5620330363001″ account_id=”5045163367001″ player_id=”HkKfBWB1x”]