A guest blog post by GCB Medical President Ryan Bowen
January 30, 2021
I will never forget the day I met Kate. Like most traditional love stories, ours began with a forced work encounter at a local Panera Bread in Framingham, MA. I was 28 years old and working in pharmaceutical sales at the time. My manager had asked me to meet up with a young sales rep from another company who was co-promoting the same product. I remember feeling generally annoyed that I had to go make small talk with some random person about how I was promoting Protonix for acid reflux.
But when I walked in and saw that Kate was the random sales rep...I went from feeling generally annoyed to completely enamored. Thankfully I played it cool and nailed it with a great opening line.
“Hello. So, have you ever sold Pharmaceuticals before?”
She’ll never admit it, but I think deep down she was all in from that moment on.
Our 2009 wedding in Lake George, NY
It’s actually pretty wild to think of all that’s happened since that first awkward meeting in 2007. Within a couple of years, I convinced Kate to marry me and move to Connecticut for my job. Over the next ten years, she would convince me to have four kids and quit my corporate job to come work for her. And while I can’t pretend our lives look anything close to what we originally envisioned, I can say for certain that showing up to Panera Bread that morning was the best thing that ever happened to me.
When Kate asked me to guest write a blog post and share some of my background and insights on the things I’m working on at our company, GCB Medical Supply, I was happy to do it. But as I sat down and thought about what would be compelling for people to read about my story, I realized I mostly just wanted to talk about Kate. So instead this post is going to be about her and what it’s been like to have a front row seat to all that she’s done over the last 14 years I’ve known her. I’m hoping she won’t be upset by my editorial judgement but I suppose if you see another blog post from me next week that is strictly focused on my work, you’ll know how this one landed.
Most of you reading this are probably familiar with Georgia’s story. Our youngest daughter was born in cardiac arrest in 2018 and survived a heart transplant when she was four months old. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember what our lives were like before she arrived. We had the typical joys and stress that come with having three kids and two demanding careers. But when Georgia was born, our world was knocked off its axis.
Georgia at six weeks old, Boston Children’s Hospital
There is nothing that can prepare you for having a critically ill child. The first six months of Georgia’s life felt like an excruciating roller coaster ride that we could not get off. Seemingly every day Georgia went through a heartbreaking setback followed by a miraculous breakthrough. All the devastating news we received from the doctors was always followed by a sign of hope from her that gave us what we needed to push forward.
I have always known Kate to be strong-willed. As her husband of 12 years I can tell you it’s one of her signature traits. But I don’t think there’s a word to describe the superhuman strength I witnessed from Kate after Georgia was born. It was as if she took every ounce of her overwhelming pain and transformed it into this laser-focused energy and sheer determination to keep Georgia alive. Kate made it her mission to become an expert on Georgia’s heart condition which allowed her to be our daughter’s biggest advocate while we were in the ICU. She was always connecting the dots and would notice immediately when even the smallest thing seemed off.
The only other person I’ve met who can match Kate’s level of perseverance is our daughter Georgia.
To be sure, we’ve had countless ups and downs in the two years since Georgia came home from the hospital. Through it all, I’ve watched Kate’s determined focus on Georgia’s well-being grow and expand to helping other transplant families who are fighting the same battles. She’s taken the heaviness that comes with raising a medically complex child and figured out a way to inspire hope for parents who see what Georgia has overcome. I can say from personal experience that when you’re in the midst of tragedy, hope is the biggest gift you can receive.
I saw the light first go on when she had the idea to design the Georgie, a patent pending pediatric gown she developed with Georgia’s medical team at Boston Children’s Hospital. Throughout that process I think Kate realized how immensely underserved the pediatric patient population is. Since then she’s been working tirelessly with various hospitals, researchers, doctors and medical device companies to change that. Her commitment to bringing innovative products to the pediatric market is one piece of the puzzle in our family’s overarching goal of advancing transplant medicine.
Nine months ago, Kate asked me to quit my corporate job and come work with her to help launch GCB Medical Supply. At this point you can probably guess that she wasn’t going to take no for an answer, but it truly was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made both personally and professionally. I am getting to build a business with my wife that is allowing us to give back in a way we never dreamed possible. I’ve made it my priority to take as much of the minutiae of both work and family life off of Kate’s plate in order to allow her to maximize her time doing what she does best - driving the GCB team toward the vision she has for the company and interacting directly with the customers who love doing business with her.
There’s so much more I could say about Kate, but because I was given a strict word count, I’ll close by mentioning that today is her birthday. In retrospect, I probably should have led with that but since this is my first professional blog post I’m hoping she’ll forgive me.
Happy birthday, Katie Q. I hope you pause for a brief moment today and appreciate all that you’ve created this past year. Thank you for pouring your endless love and energy into our family, thank you for being the boss I never knew I wanted, and most of all... thank you for taking all that great professional advice I gave you at Panera 14 years ago. I think it’s really paid off.
I love you.
Ryan Bowen is the President of GCB Medical Supply. Previously, he spent 20 years in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries with Pfizer and Stryker Orthopedics. He grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and earned his B.S. in Biology at Boston College.
At work, Ryan’s primary focus with GCB Medical is business development and strategy. At home, Ryan’s primary focus is keeping their busy household well-fed, organized and on time, while fully supporting all of his wife’s crazy ideas.