By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Katie Dudas has been working for the Penguins in some capacity since 2009, according to the team.
However, in December of 2019, Dudas learned she has stage 2 breast cancer.
Since then, she’s been battling the diagnosis all the while remaining a positive person inside of PPG Paints Arena and among Penguins staff.
“From the day I first met Katie when she interviewed with me, she has always been one of the most optimistic and happy people that I have known,” said Cindy Himes, director of community/alumni relations for the Penguins Foundation in an interview with the Penguins website. “She loves the Penguins and has been a tremendous asset in each of her roles within our organization. We are very lucky to have her as a member of the Penguins family and she has our unwavering support in her fight against cancer.”
Each November, the NHL hosts Hockey Fights Cancer to create awareness and raise funds for various types of cancer research and to support those battling the diagnosis.
We fight for real-life superhero, Katie Dudas 💜
Earlier today, Katie was invited to the Penguins’ locker room for an unforgettable experience that included a customized #HockeyFightsCancer jersey and a special message from Sidney Crosby. pic.twitter.com/c69HnAm8Sl
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 13, 2020
On Thursday, the Penguins surprised Dudas with a small ceremony inside the Penguins locker room, giving her a customized Hockey Fights Cancer Penguins jersey and video messages from friends and family letting her know they supported her.
However, there was one person in the video she didn’t expect to see.
Captain Sidney Crosby.
“Hi, Katie, congratulations on finishing your treatment,” Crosby said. “I hear you’re a pretty popular person at all the games and also responsible for putting a lot of smiles on people’s faces. On behalf of myself and the team, we just want to wish you much happiness, and health moving forward. I just want to let you know how proud we are to have you on our team.”
Finally, before Dudas left, she rang a bell that was created by another PPG Paints Arena worker, Cliff Weigand, who lost his brother Dennis to cancer.
“I think a lot of people go with the attitude of ‘you just go in and there’s no giving up’ and you do, you have days where you’re done because everything going on is so hard on your body, your mind, nothing is yours anymore,” Dudas explained. “But just having people, the texts, just knowing you have this team behind you is just amazing, that’s how I got through this, that’s why I still have the smile.”
According to the team, Dudas went through 27 rounds of treatment from February all the way until October 22.
While the cancer treatments may be over, Dudas still has a fight ahead of her.
She has to get reconstructive surgery next year and is required to be on hormone suppressors for the next 10 years.
She isn’t losing her smile, though.
“I’m going to sob at the first game next year,” she told the Penguins website. “I just know it. It’s going to be so nice to be back.”