After surviving cancer, local woman shifts focus to philanthropy


By Claire Harlin

Having just celebrated five years of being a breast cancer survivor, Catherine Blair remembers well hearing the terrifying words “you have cancer.” However, what she realized as she went through treatment over the next many months was just how lucky she had been. She had the support of family, friends, and the funds and insurance to pay for the needed treatment.

“I can’t imagine hearing those words and not knowing who to go to or not having the money to treat the illness,” she said.

The experience inspired Blair to retire from her role as dean at The Bishop’s School and look for a way to help other women facing breast cancer.

She got involved locally with the San Diego affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, joining the non-profit’s board of directors in 2009. After four years on the board and three years serving as chair of the organization’s grants committee, Blair is now serving as president-elect of the San Diego affiliate, which puts on the annual Race for the Cure, which brings in more than $1.2 million each year for local breast cancer initiatives and research. The five-kilometer race will take place once again this year on Nov. 4 in Balboa Park, and Blair will be leading her race team of about 40 people. For five years, she’s headed a team sponsored by Manpower, a staffing company she and her husband are co-owners of, and the team has raised nearly $20,000 each year, with about half of that coming from the sponsorship.

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