Maple Valley woman’s search for cancer cure takes flight with 'Wings of Karen'
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
June 20, 2012 · Updated 11:39 AM
Breast cancer gave Maple Valley resident Kristi Blair a one-two punch. Now she’s starting to hit back.
First, it took her mother Karen Denamark, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Having discovered it late, she was subjected to rigorous treatments before she eventually died in 2007.
Then Blair was diagnosed with breast cancer in October. Because it was caught early, however, Blair underwent several surgeries that, in addition to other therapy, successfully put her cancer in remission.
Several months later the 35-year-old formed Wings of Karen, a breast cancer foundation named after her mother that she hopes will either lead to a cure or better treatment.
Unlike other breast cancer foundations, however, all funds raised remain local. Donations made to Wings of Karen goes to the research and clinical program of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a collaboration between University of Washington Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
“I have always done research,” she said. “I was very passionate after my diagnosis. I realized I wanted to do something more. I wanted to start research based in this area.”
Blair stated she wants to keep the donations local for several reasons, one of which is the research centers located in the Seattle area.
“We are blessed to live in a community supported by some of the best doctors and researchers in the world,” she said.
The other reason is she believes that people like to donate to causes knowing people in their own community will directly benefit from their support.
Besides finding a cure for breast cancer, Blair also hopes Wings of Karen will help researchers discover alternative treatments to chemotherapy that are less harsh.
“That’s still so much that’s unknown,” she said. “That’s why the treatments are so harsh. There will be a cure, but there needs to be research (first).”
As a part of its fundraising, Blair has organized a 5K Bra Dash race in September at Lake Wilderness Park.
“It’s bringing awareness of a very serious topic so that people can feel good and still smile about it,” she said.
Blair said her mother’s attitude throughout the ordeal has served as inspiration for others going through the same experience.
“I look at it as spawning the wings of hope,” she said. “She was a vibrant, caring woman.”
For more information, go to www.wingsofkaren.org.
Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at email@example.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.