Home Business Remembering Chris-Tia Donaldson, Founder & CEO of Thank God It’s Natural (TGIN)

Remembering Chris-Tia Donaldson, Founder & CEO of Thank God It’s Natural (TGIN)

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Chris-Tia Donaldson

Chris-Tia Donaldson, founder and CEO of Thank God It’s Natural (TGIN), died at the age of 42. Her niece announced the news on Sunday, November 14, 2021. Donaldson passed away on Saturday, November 13 from complications due to her long battle with cancer.

Chicago Southsider is using this space to acknowledge and remember the life of a woman who made a positive impact on women on the South Side of Chicago and beyond.

“Thank God for loaning us his angel,” captioned a Facebook post alongside a video of Donaldson’s niece sharing the news. “Rest easy @tginceo. We love you and will continue building your legacy and pursuing your mission.”

Image source: Facebook

Remembering the life of Chris-Tia Donaldson

Donaldson was a passionate beauty entrepreneur and breast cancer survivor. She spent her life advocating for breast cancer awareness and health equity. Donaldson used her platform to provide resources, education, and support for women on the South Side of Chicago.

In December 2015, Donaldson discovered she had breast cancer. While doctors and disease experts typically recommend mammograms for women around 40 years old, Donaldson was only 36 years old when she received the news.

“I was devastated and shocked to be diagnosed so young,” Donaldson told WCIU. “So, our message to young women in the community, particularly around Chicago, is that you have to listen to your body no matter what age you are.”

Listening to her body transformed Donaldson’s life. She took the necessary steps to get the treatment she needed. However, Donaldson knew that this wasn’t the story of many women on the South Side of Chicago.

“In Chicago, Black women are 42% more likely to die of breast cancer than the general population, which is not the case in other major cities,” Donaldson told ABC 7 Chicago last year. “Breast cancer does not discriminate based on age. I’ve met people as young as 21 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.”

She adds, “Based on my experience and witnessing these statistics during my journey, I created the TGIN Foundation to address health disparities and gaps in survivorship. We partnered with Lyft to ensure that Black women and uninsured women throughout the city of Chicago receive free rides to their doctors appointments. A lot of times people think cancer plus cancer treatment equals survivorship, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Transportation, parking at the hospital, childcare costs, and the cost of medication can get in the way of people beating this disease.”

Donaldson was first diagnosed with breast cancer while on the South Side of Chicago at a community safety net hospital. These hospitals typically treat individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. When she received the diagnosis, she knew that her good insurance would grant her access to treatment at Northwestern. Along her cancer journey, she realized that money made the difference between living and dying when it comes to this condition.

Donaldson received a grant from Wintrust Bank to advance her grassroots efforts. Her Pink Ambassador Program enabled young women under 40 to share their stories in the community. The program helped women identify lumps in their breasts and find places to get mammograms. Donaldson also brought awareness to the non-reimbursable costs associated with the disease, noting that the day-to-day challenges can be stressful. If women couldn’t find childcare or take days off work, treatment options were limited.

Donaldson’s book, “This is Only a Test: What Breast Cancer Taught Me about Faith, Love, Hair, and Business,” is part of her life work. She talks about her journey with breast cancer, and why self-care is essential to the health of Black women.

Image source: Facebook

The proceeds from her book benefited TGIN’s Waiting Room Renovation project on the South Side of Chicago. She consistently raised funds to remodel a waiting room on the south side of Chicago focused on breast oncology.

Chris Tia Donaldson’s Health Tips

Here are a few tips Donaldson has provided over the years to help more women take control of their health.

1. Be mindful of your family history, and be proactive.

  • Donaldson said 90% of breast cancer cases involve women with no family history. Even if you don’t have a family history, you should still get screened.

2. Manage stress during and after treatment.

  • Being relaxed is part of healing your body. Donaldson believed her stress levels contributed to her condition.

3. Maintain a healthy diet.

  • Be mindful of the foods you consume. Limit alcohol and sugar.

4. Be your own health advocate.

  • Don’t just put faith in your medication. Get at the root of the issue and determine how you can heal yourself internally.

From Harvard Trained Lawyer to Beauty CEO

Image source: Facebook

Chris-Tia Donaldson earned two degrees from Harvard University, a bachelor’s in economics and a law degree. After graduating from law school, she moved to Chicago to practice law. Being a Black woman in Corporate America, she quickly learned that her hair would play a role in how she navigated the workplace. Donaldson wore a wig for almost two years, noting that people advised her that curly hair was not professional in the workplace.

Donaldson once said the inability to show up as her authentic self limited her success at the law firm. She knew she wasn’t the only one enduring these experiences in the workplace. She started researching products so she could create solutions to the problems many Black women faced.

Thank God It’s Natural was born. It’s a Chicago-based manufacturer of natural products for hair and body. TGIN billboards were placed on the South Side of Chicago to empower more women. Products are sold at Walgreen’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and Sally’s Beauty. Donaldson’s work has been featured in major publications such as Chicago Tribune, Black Enterprise, USA Today, Ebony, Marie Clair, and Heart & Soul.

Donaldson had a fierce work ethic. She worked full-time as a Senior Corporate Counsel at Oracle, while building TGIN and fighting stage 2 breast cancer. She was recognized as 2016 Crain’s Chicago Business 40 Under 40.

Donaldson’s legacy will live on through the people she has touched and the resources she has created to help more women on the South Side of Chicago.

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