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This Is Only a Test: What Breast Cancer Taught Me about Faith, Love, Hair, and Business

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CHRIS-TIA DONALDSON knows what it means to beat the odds. Going from the inner city of Detroit to the Ivy League to founding a successful hair care company and facing brutal trials like breast cancer along the way, she embodies the strength so many women in America aspire to have—and knows how the challenges women face can create remarkable perspective, calm, and understan CHRIS-TIA DONALDSON knows what it means to beat the odds. Going from the inner city of Detroit to the Ivy League to founding a successful hair care company and facing brutal trials like breast cancer along the way, she embodies the strength so many women in America aspire to have—and knows how the challenges women face can create remarkable perspective, calm, and understanding. This is Only a Test, Chris-Tia reflects on her journey as a black woman in corporate America and shares the lessons that life has taught her. From faith, family, and relationships to the importance of embracing gifts and defining success on one’s own terms, she shows how all women can follow their dreams while still staying true to their own needs, physically and emotionally. Letting the world go and finding their own pace. Every woman’s path is different. But the way to get there is the same: keep your head up, rely on your true self, and ultimately, pursue your dreams—no matter what stands before you. CHRIS-TIA DONALDSON was once just a street-smart girl from Detroit with a passion for hair and a dream of owning her own business. Now a two- time Harvard University graduate, bestselling author, and lifestyle expert, she is also the founder and CEO of a nationally distributed beauty brand, Thank God It’s Natural (tgin). Her products are sold in Target, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Walgreen’s, and Whole Foods, and the company continues to grow. Chris-Tia has been named one of Chicago’s 40 Under 40 and has been featured in USA Today, Marie Claire, Essence, Black Enterprise, Heart & Soul, and the Chicago Tribune.


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CHRIS-TIA DONALDSON knows what it means to beat the odds. Going from the inner city of Detroit to the Ivy League to founding a successful hair care company and facing brutal trials like breast cancer along the way, she embodies the strength so many women in America aspire to have—and knows how the challenges women face can create remarkable perspective, calm, and understan CHRIS-TIA DONALDSON knows what it means to beat the odds. Going from the inner city of Detroit to the Ivy League to founding a successful hair care company and facing brutal trials like breast cancer along the way, she embodies the strength so many women in America aspire to have—and knows how the challenges women face can create remarkable perspective, calm, and understanding. This is Only a Test, Chris-Tia reflects on her journey as a black woman in corporate America and shares the lessons that life has taught her. From faith, family, and relationships to the importance of embracing gifts and defining success on one’s own terms, she shows how all women can follow their dreams while still staying true to their own needs, physically and emotionally. Letting the world go and finding their own pace. Every woman’s path is different. But the way to get there is the same: keep your head up, rely on your true self, and ultimately, pursue your dreams—no matter what stands before you. CHRIS-TIA DONALDSON was once just a street-smart girl from Detroit with a passion for hair and a dream of owning her own business. Now a two- time Harvard University graduate, bestselling author, and lifestyle expert, she is also the founder and CEO of a nationally distributed beauty brand, Thank God It’s Natural (tgin). Her products are sold in Target, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Walgreen’s, and Whole Foods, and the company continues to grow. Chris-Tia has been named one of Chicago’s 40 Under 40 and has been featured in USA Today, Marie Claire, Essence, Black Enterprise, Heart & Soul, and the Chicago Tribune.

30 review for This Is Only a Test: What Breast Cancer Taught Me about Faith, Love, Hair, and Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This book spoke to me on so many levels. So glad Chris-Tia Donalson shared her story.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Ok, so here goes… I must be the only person in the world who didn’t like this book according to Goodreads. Now I read some Goodreads reviews after I hit “I finished the book” and I was wowed seeing all of the 4 and 5 star reviews. In all actuality, I wanted to rate the book lower than a 3, but I felt that would not be a friendly thing to do seeing that she is a cancer survivor and she talks about God a lot in this book, which I can understand. 
 However, it brings me to this point. Why did she wr Ok, so here goes… I must be the only person in the world who didn’t like this book according to Goodreads. Now I read some Goodreads reviews after I hit “I finished the book” and I was wowed seeing all of the 4 and 5 star reviews. In all actuality, I wanted to rate the book lower than a 3, but I felt that would not be a friendly thing to do seeing that she is a cancer survivor and she talks about God a lot in this book, which I can understand. 
 However, it brings me to this point. Why did she write this book? Who was her audience? What did she hope to accomplish by writing this? All of these questions and more, floated through my brain as I read this book. About half-way through I put the book down and didn’t pick it up for 4 days. I didn’t think I could stomach anymore to be honest. Truth be told, I didn’t/don’t like her at all. I too, lived in Detroit for a spell, and her personality is all too familiar of the people that reside there or come from there. In my opinion, many Michiganders are opportunists… especially some Detroiters, unfortunately. I feel like Chris-Tia took advantage of a gap in the natural hair care world and capitalized on this opportunity. We all know Detroit is the hair capital of the world, so it’s not surprising to see this girl from Detroit try to come up in Chicago with her natural hair care ideas. She says many times in her book that she knew nothing of natural hair, nothing of the beauty and hair industry, but yet, after doing a big chop and looking for resources on how to take care of her hair and seeing there was no real place to turn, decided to use this opportunity to pursue a career in natural hair care products and educating the masses on hair. She also says, that she gleaned other people for information so that she could educate herself about natural hair, and then she used that information to write a natural hair care guide for the masses, mind you, with no experience or knowledge about natural hair care. She also contends that she was always fascinated with hair and always doing her hair and obsessed with hair her whole life, BUT, it’s only when she did the big chop that she explains that is when she decided that she was going to capitalize on this opportunity where people were searching for “how-to’s” and there was a lack of information. Mind you, she also wore wigs while transitioning from permed to natural because she didn’t know how to take care of her hair, and because she felt that her natural hair wasn’t professional enough to rock on its own in her corporate law arena. So while she’s trying to learn about hair care and has this idea about teaching women about their hair, she’s wearing wigs. She also admits that she treated people horribly, and she talks with great candor in the fact that she was basically an asshole to people for much of her life. She talks from a place of privilege and disdain for those not at the same station of life she is, and it is pretty evident that she would walk all over you for the money or if a man was involved. She seems pretty shallow and superficial in this book, and I just didn’t like that or appreciate the haughtiness she seemed to exude in these pages. She starts off by explaining how she took a trip to Bali and had a getaway for weeks, but then tries to inspire other women who wants to start a business by telling them how to do so. However, the average Black woman isn’t able to sponsor herself on an endless vacation to Bali for weeks on end, to find herself and regain her motivation and inspiration to come back bigger and better for the future. Most women I know don’t have connections to chemists and warehouses, and manufacturers, and the like to get their business off the ground. Most women I know don’t have a 6-figure income during the day, like she had, with the ability of having enough capital to start a product line. Most women I know also didn’t belong to high societies of upper echelon people who went to Ivy League schools so that they could be a phone call away from the next big break. Most women I know didn’t go to private schools their whole life with the ability of living in the high middle class area surrounded by lawyers and doctors and accountants… mixing and mingling with the right “type” of people so that when an opportunity is available, you are in the right place at the right time. This book isn’t relatable, in my opinion, to the average Black woman who is hustling on the side, making ends meet and staying up late creating their visions at home while the family is sleeping. What I gathered from this book was this: - She was a horrible person who dealt with people on a short leash. She let you go at the drop of a hat and didn’t look back no matter what. - She edged her way up through the ranks of being a corporate lawyer, not being mindful how she got there, and didn’t care either way, long as she made it - She abused her friends and relationships to the point where she lost many of the friends in her life due to her being narrowly focused and out for self - She also treated her family members like they were people off the street - She then gets humbled by breast cancer at a young age and gets knocked down a peg or two in the pride category - She realizes that life should be cherished instead of hawked down, as she considers she could have died or could still relapse into a bout of cancer and fully understands the phrase “life is short.” - She then understands that God allowed this to happen to her and is now using this place in her life as an opportunity to speak to other women about how to start/run a business, but also keep in mind that you can’t be an asshole and still win because the body keeps count - Then she writes a book that talks about this low period in her life, all the while trying to educate women on things that happened to her specifically, about love, hair, career and breast cancer and “teaching” them what to do about life and how to navigate situations, as if she’s an expert. Although I pushed myself to read and finish this book, I didn’t enjoy it, not one bit. It is unfortunate that she got dealt a blow of breast cancer at 36. I understand that can be very traumatic and stressful, but Chris-Tia seems to downplay the harsh reality that comes with having cancer. She says in her book many times that things were simple, stress free, normal, but then in another chapter talks about how brutal and traumatic and tragic this whole experience was for her. She plays up how great she was in getting through her cancer, but then also wants sympathy for having cancer in the next breath. There were too many things I disliked about this book and her as a person that I can’t really provide an objective review. We haven’t even touched on the hair care products! Chris-Tia doesn’t seem like someone you could befriend in an elevator, or library or coffee shop. She seems too haughty and unapproachable. Cares too much of what others think and say, and hasn’t really found that balance within herself to be seen as someone who is less than the best or her achievements. Although she does admit to her faults, and provides some inspirational quotables, it seems disingenuous and superficial, as if she’s writing this book to clear her conscious, and that is a bit off putting to say the least. The writing is simple and easy to read, but the content, I just couldn’t relate. I had hoped that I would be able to relate seeing that I have a side-hustle/business, work a 9-5, and have faith, visions, and ideas of bigger things for my life, but sadly, her book just didn’t do it for me. Rating 2.5/3 at best. Thank you to Miracle Press and Chris-Tia Donaldson for providing me with this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    If I could describe this book in one word, it would be inspiring. TGIN has been a hair care staple of mine for a couple of years now so when I received an email saying that they would be including a free copy of the CEO's latest book with your Black Friday purchase, I jumped on it. I wanted to know more about the fabulous woman behind the brand that I loved so much. This is Only a Test gives a glimpse into the author's upbringing, her career, the start of her hair care brand, and her battle with If I could describe this book in one word, it would be inspiring. TGIN has been a hair care staple of mine for a couple of years now so when I received an email saying that they would be including a free copy of the CEO's latest book with your Black Friday purchase, I jumped on it. I wanted to know more about the fabulous woman behind the brand that I loved so much. This is Only a Test gives a glimpse into the author's upbringing, her career, the start of her hair care brand, and her battle with breast cancer. What I appreciate the most about this book is the author was brutally honest. She admits that despite her being deathly afraid, her diagnosis brought her a significant amount of clarity that she probably wouldn't have received otherwise. It gave her the opportunity to reflect on her life and realize that even though she had been physically healthy up until that point, her lifestyle was not. She was living to work and burying her emotions instead of facing them head on. This, in particular, resonated with me greatly. Why? Because I do the same thing. Sometimes, we just want to do what we can to get through the day and those pesky things called emotions can be so overwhelming, that it's easier to just bury them and sort them out later. What I also liked about this book was there were so many gems. From her realization about men: Moral to the story: me don't ever just break up with a girl or disappear without having a place to go...they always have something teed up and ready to go before they pull the little disappearing act that I've seen over and over. to this one about people's lack of self-awareness We're often so caught up in the filtered version of other people's lives, vacations, relationships, marriages, or babies that we can't even live or enjoy our own lives. there were just so many little tidbits dropped throughout the book that I don't even have time to list them all. Matter of fact, I'm going to have to go back and highlight some things because the ones I quoted in my status updates aren't even the half of the things that spoke to me. Overall: A beautifully written book by a very talented and inspiring woman. It kinda has me feeling like I can take on the world now. 5 stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rakiah Polk

    Wow... Thank God Its Genuine!!! Total transparency with a tone of resilience! Overcoming during your lowest moments, the ones that we reject, this is a depiction of how to strive for greatness, love yourself and love others. Awesome!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Preciosa

    This book is an amazing and easy-to-read account of a boss lady's life. Chris-Tia Donaldson recounts her life as an intelligent young Black woman who is also a double graduate of Harvard University, a CEO of a natural haircare line, and a breast cancer survivor. In this book, she keeps it all the way real, gives readers the tea on how to be successful in business, romantic relationships, friendships with other women, and trials. She also addresses the unique trials Black women/women of color fac This book is an amazing and easy-to-read account of a boss lady's life. Chris-Tia Donaldson recounts her life as an intelligent young Black woman who is also a double graduate of Harvard University, a CEO of a natural haircare line, and a breast cancer survivor. In this book, she keeps it all the way real, gives readers the tea on how to be successful in business, romantic relationships, friendships with other women, and trials. She also addresses the unique trials Black women/women of color face in business and in health disparities. I read this book in three sittings, but I could have easily read it in one. It felt like a more experienced best friend was talking to me about life, and I would highly recommend this book to any other woman, especially women of color or female entrepreneurs. Thank God It's Natural (TGIN) was my favorite haircare company before I read this book, but reading Donaldson's book takes my love and respect for her company to another level. I connect with her experience in more ways than one. Being a Black woman who has experienced health issues and seen the health disparities, attended a top-twenty university, and gone through my own natural hair transition, I connect deeply with this book and the life experiences of its CEO. I absolutely adore Chris-Tia Donaldson and have added her to my prayer list. I'd give this book ten stars if I could!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Williams

    I'm Mandy from Alabama and I just want to drop this testimony full of hope and etc What more can I say if not to thank God and also thank Dr osuma for his marvelous work In my health&life ,for helping me get rid of Colon cancer also known as (bowel cancer)with the power of his herbs don't have much to say but you out there facing any problems concerning cancer just quickly get in touch now ... On his YouTube channel by searching Dr osuma,or write a direct mail ([email protected]) WhatsA I'm Mandy from Alabama and I just want to drop this testimony full of hope and etc What more can I say if not to thank God and also thank Dr osuma for his marvelous work In my health&life ,for helping me get rid of Colon cancer also known as (bowel cancer)with the power of his herbs don't have much to say but you out there facing any problems concerning cancer just quickly get in touch now ... On his YouTube channel by searching Dr osuma,or write a direct mail ([email protected]) WhatsApp or call +(234-9054-914-348)"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Given

    Valuable Lessons I loved the sincerity in the stories Chris-Tia shared in this book concerning her career , family life and live life. She boldly shed light on the social economic factors that affect the recovery rate for cancer patients.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julienne

    A must read, this was amazing how she detail her journey very inspiring anyone reading this book can relate. Thank you for sharing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sydelle

    I got introduced to Chris-Tia through her products TGIN and I soon became a huge advocate for those amazing hair products. I was the lucky recipient of an Instagram promotion for this book and I appreciated Chris-Tia raw and often painful recollection of moments in her life that brought her to her knees, the trials of being an entrepreneur while working for someone else, getting breast cancer and being in remission and taking a hard look at one’s self and detailing for everyone the flaws, mis st I got introduced to Chris-Tia through her products TGIN and I soon became a huge advocate for those amazing hair products. I was the lucky recipient of an Instagram promotion for this book and I appreciated Chris-Tia raw and often painful recollection of moments in her life that brought her to her knees, the trials of being an entrepreneur while working for someone else, getting breast cancer and being in remission and taking a hard look at one’s self and detailing for everyone the flaws, mis steps with some humorous moments. It’s more about how we as women especially black women view ourselves often despite having some privilege and how tragedy can restore our faith in others and make us take a hard long look at ourselves.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Niamh Barlow

    Heartwarming and inspiring. Makes me want to work my butt off but do some yoga at the same time

  11. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    A well written, inspiringly, impactful must read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erica Miske

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shauna

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rufus W. Thompson Jr.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chris-Tia Donaldson

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kenya

  17. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne Botchey

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  19. 4 out of 5

    SaDohl Jones

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charis

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  22. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Madisa

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Corey Zavilla

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Jones

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  28. 4 out of 5

    Allyson Miller

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  30. 5 out of 5

    ProudMom

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