meet kaitlin christine-- female fighter, feminist and the founder of Gabbi.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24, one year after her mother died from the same disease, Kaitlin created "Gabbi" and made it her mission to help women become experts of their own body and health.
In this interview, we explore Kaitlin's journey of strength, loss, self-advocacy and empowerment. Get to know lady boss, Kaitlin Christine with us!
let's start with a lady brag!
Tell us the things you love to brag about the most:
This is actually a really neat exercise. As females, let alone as a female entrepreneur, I think not only is it very difficult to brag about ourselves, but we seldom do it! This was a good reminder to me of what I have accomplished and a great exercise in giving myself credit without any ifs, ands, or buts!
I am really proud of the strength I have worked hard to rebuild in my upper body. After having a double mastectomy (which included the removal of my breasts, some lymph nodes, and some pectoral muscle), I wasn’t able to do a push up for almost 5 years after surgery or lift anything over 10 pounds. I am very proud to now be able to complete multiple chaturangas with the rest of my yoga class!
I am proud of the life I have created for myself. After a very tumultuous 7 years which resulted in a death and loss, multiple surgeries, marriage, new job, divorce, and entering into entrepreneurship, I am grateful and proud that I intentionally and actively made a life for myself in a new city, supported myself single-handedly, and created a tribe that is always in my corner.
I seldom recognize the gravity and inner strength it took for me to have my breasts removed.
I never sit to acknowledge the choice I made and my execution of that choice. I never give myself credit for the fact that not everyone could have or would have made that decision and I beam from the inside out when I think of my fighting spirit.
Other than the ability to fight for my own life, the thing I am most proud of, is that when I look in the mirror, I see my Momma. You are always told growing up that you like one or both of your parents and as a child (or even as an adult) I do believe we take that for granted. Like most things, you don’t realize what you have or how important something is until it is gone. I cannot tell you the extreme pride I get from being told I look or act like my Mom. Not because she was an extremely beautiful woman, which she was, but more so because it is tangible and visible evidence that my Mom is in me--that she lives on in me.
2. We are so moved by the story behind Gabbi. Can you tell us where this journey started?
I feel like if my Mom were here to answer this question, she would have some incredible story about me starting my own businesses at an early age. Although I vaguely remember a few instances of this, the more concrete answer is that Gabbi came from personal and professional experience of being continually let down.
Gabbi is the action and response to disappointment. Disappointment in the lack of care both my Mom and I experienced. Disappointment in the reality of the gross lack of knowledge, efficiency, support, and trust our healthcare system provides. And heart broken that these experiences are systemic and universal for all women. After the experiences with my Mom and me, I chose to go into healthcare. And after working in healthcare , receiving a glimpse “behind the door,” I was frustrated with the system and lack of impact I had set out to have. I began having conversations day to day while I was out and about that just naturally resulted in me sharing my experiences and women I was speaking with confessing they were really concerned about certain risks due to a history in their family of various diseases, but that they had been silenced or falsely comforted by their medical provider.
3. It sounds like you learned to fiercely self-advocate to get the medical help that you needed. What was this like?
Isolating. You hear throughout history time and time again that standing for something you believe in is ostracizing. And the truth is that it ultimately brings people closer together, however the path to get there, until that happens, is incredibly lonely. I knew within myself that something was wrong, but everyone wanted more concrete proof. I was told by medical expert after medical expert, family members, and friends that what I was doing was unnecessary or too dramatic.
when you know something deep within you, however, the only answer is to trust yourself, despite the outside noise, and move forward.
I look forward to looking back and being in awe of the global tribe I have created through Gabbi. I am very slowly starting to see glimmers of that reality, but the path is dark, messy, confusing, and lonely.
4. What were the biggest challenges you faced when making the decision to have surgery?
Support. The shift happened when I met a group of women who had similar experiences or had faced similar decisions. Up until the point I made the decision, I could not find a lot of accurate information, I was being told by professionals that I had nothing to worry about, and I was in my early 20s--no one around me, whether it was my mother’s friends, my colleagues, or my peers, could fathom the concept of contemplating amputating your breasts for preventive reasons. I remember walking into a room in Chicago, and there were about 30 women ranging in age from 18-late 60’s. All of them had been touched by ovarian or breast cancer in some way--either they carried mutations, one of their family members had had cancer, or they themselves had had cancer. And they were strong, beautiful, smart women who were thriving. It was the affirmation I needed--an unspoken, “You are not alone.”
5. What did this experience show you about yourself?
it showed me that I am stronger than I even know. that I can do hard things. and I am not alone.
6. What is the mission behind Gabbi?
our mission is to make women the experts on their own health by breaking down social stigma and correcting systemic failures that increase incidents of preventable and life-threatening diseases. We put the power in the hands of women by equipping them with the tools, confidence, and community needed to assess and mitigate their inherent health risks. We know that women’s health is everyone’s issue, because when women thrive, the world thrives. We’re not here to cure cancer. We’re here to help women prevent it. Our goal is to decrease delayed diagnosis, cancer incidence, and shame amongst women.
7. What has been the most surprising/exciting part of creating Gabbi?
Two things immediately come to mind--1) the number of women and men who affirm what we are building is needed because they have experienced for themselves or witnessed their loved one struggle with similar issues. 2) the number of individuals who have donated resources whether it is their time, skills and expertise, or money to help build Gabbi.
8. What is one piece of advice you would love to share with women everywhere about their health and wellness?
Just one?! :)
Share. I think all the advice I would give comes down to sharing. If you allow yourself to be vulnerable and discuss your concerns or problems with others, not only are you helping decrease shame around women’s health, but you automatically find comrades--women who in fact have struggled or are struggling with similar health issues, and you learn from these women on how to move forward.
9. We know you use the Lady Suite, thank you!!! Do you think about your vulva differently after using lady suite? Do tell!
We take for granted a lot of things when we are young. As soon as things start “shifting,” you have the “Oh shit” moment realizing this doesn’t last forever! A big learning for me was you have to take care of your vagina! It sounds simple, but it deserves TLC just like our teeth or face or skin...maybe even more!
11. What is your favorite way to use Lady Suite.
I love the Rejuvenating Botanical Oil. It has changed my vulva in terms of in-growns. Now it looks and feels clear and soft with no impurities!
12. Tell us your daily mantras or whatever life hack gets you ready to take on the world!!
Oh boy. I have a very strict morning routine that keeps me on track. Every morning I:
Wake between 5:30-7am (depending on when my hot yoga class is)
Empty my bladder.
Take my medicine and supplements with a full glass of room temperature water.
Brush my teeth.
Get back in bed and read my devotional.
I then get out of bed and read out loud on the floor my affirmations, set my intentions for the day, and say a quick prayer.
Then I head to hot yoga.
Then I sit in the sauna for up to 20 minutes while reading a business book.
Take a shower.
And am at my computer or first meeting by 8:45 am.
routine is crucial when you are an entrepreneur.
For me, mindset, movement, and learning are crucial to grounding me for the day. And never, ever, checking my email until I have worked for at least 1.5 hours.
Learn more about Kaitlin and her mission at begabbi.com