CHAPTER ONE: THE BALI WITHIN

I was down to three pairs of clean underwear and two pairs of socks. For once in my life, I packed light. I had come to Bali almost three weeks ago with a pair of flip- flops, two bathing suits, twenty-one pairs of underwear, ten black Old Navy tank dresses, and no makeup. I was on a mission to figure out what the fuck just happened to me. I had no clue what I would find there—all I knew was that I wanted a complete do-over.
People come to Bali for all kinds of reasons. This magical place set in the heart of the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Indonesia, is known just as much for its rich food, beautiful culture, and lush greenery as it is for its beaches. For years, Australians have flocked to Bali’s waters in droves to surf the epic waves, communal bonfires, and endless nights of drinking and partying. Me? I’d come to Bali to find answers.

I had never been before, but many years ago, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times bestseller, Eat Pray Love, a book about one woman’s journey to put her life back together after a divorce. The book would lead to Bali becoming the destination of pilgrimages for many women in crisis. I was self-admittedly in crisis, so I thought, why not go to Bali and figure out who I was and why I never felt like I had, or was, enough? So, the day after finishing my cancer treatments, I booked a ticket and began my journey of self-discovery. I had no idea how I ended up here—thirty-six years old with breast cancer and no family history of the disease. I was in pretty good shape, especially for my age. For the last few years, I had eaten a mostly vegetarian diet. I didn’t smoke. I worked out regularly. So, after being a pic- ture of health, how did I get breast cancer?

It’s a question I still can’t answer with certainty, to this very day. But if I had to guess, I’d say it had a lot to do with stress and the pressure I put on myself to be perfect and live my life on other people’s terms. Many women are raised with the unrealistic idea of being a superwoman, wanting it all, having their cake, and eating it, too. I’ve pushed myself all my life to be the best, to be number one, to live up to my mother’s legacy, and by some measures, I’d done it. Or so I thought. I always say 2015 was the best and worst year of my life. On March 1st of that year, my company, Thank God It’s Natural (tgin), launched in 250 Target stores. We had an incredible year, and it took the company to a whole new level. On December 16th of that same year, I was diag- nosed with Stage 2 invasive ductile breast cancer.

TESTIMONIALS

“Women of any age can learn a thing or two about self-love from This Is Only a Test. In this raw, honest retelling of her unforeseen battle with cancer, Chris-Tia is able to deliver a powerful message to her readers: live life on your own terms, no matter the circumstances.”

“This is the raw, unabridged story of the author’s life before the age of 40. It will make you laugh and make you cry, but most of all it will make you take another look at your own life. I could not put it down. It has great business advice and is a must read for every woman. Men need to buy it as a gift for their wives, daughters, friends, as well.”

“The way you articulated how the path to the American dream is different for a black woman from Detroit was masterful.  While your battle with cancer brought me to tears your snowballing levels of success with tgin left me elated and celebrating your success.  I think it’s a must read for women of color, women in business and those battling breast cancer.”

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