Mother McAuley High School alumna and breast cancer survivor and “thriver,” Katie McAlinden, Class of 1996, recently returned to her alma mater to speak about her personal journey with cancer and how it has empowered her to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment.
McAlinden addressed the theater classes and the cast and crew of the school’s fall musical, “Grease.” She was joined by her mother, Pat Rose McAlinden, ’71, who also talked about Katie as a survivor and thriver and the importance of having a strong support system but also reaching outside a person’s circle for help.
As a nod to “Grease,” Katie donned a “Pink Lady” jacket, and its color is also the signature color of breast cancer awareness campaigns. The students wore the official performance T-shirt, a beautiful pink garment that will likely become a memento for the performers in later years.
In anticipation of Katie’s presentation, students were invited to make a free-will contribution. Money collected benefits research by Dr. Kay Macleod at the University of Chicago Ben May Department for Cancer Research.
As a McAuley student, Katie played basketball and was a member of the 1994-95 team that placed second in the state of Illinois. A highlight for Katie was scoring the first basket in what was the “new” McAuley gym. She also was a member of the Sweet Sixteen 1995-96 Mighty Mac soccer team.
Now nearly an eight-year breast cancer survivor, Katie frequently speaks to groups about her journey from cancer to wellness and how others can join her cause. Today, she is an elementary school teacher and serves on the board of True North Treks, an organization that supports young cancer survivors.