Catherine Hodges is the poster woman for early detection. After finding several lumps throughout her lifetime, she always quickly had them assessed and removed. Though all benign, she was prompt at taking advantage of the incredible medical system in Massachusetts and her robust healthcare benefits. It’s a privilege that would save her life.
In 2018 after finding another benign lump, Catherine’s doctors ensured her she did not need it removed. She asked for removal anyway. It would reveal stage 0, DCIS breast cancer in the margins. Radiation and medication quickly followed. Her diagnosis catapulted her into a club no one wants to be apart of, but she is quick to note how “remarkable and supportive” the breast cancer community was. It helped assuage the feeling of guilt a stage 0 diagnosis can bring: “sometimes I feel guilty because it was stage 0. I wasn’t going to die. I am learning to stop comparing. It’s not a contest.”
Indeed, her diagnosis did have far reaching effects. She herself began experiencing panic attacks, something she had never dealt with before. Her children, ages 11 and 15 at the time, also struggled- particularly her daughter, whom Catherine says now struggles anytime Catherine faces anything medical.
Despite these challenges, Catherine is adamant about using her story for good. She kept detailed documents for her daughter, sisters and nieces because although she does not have the gene, she feels it’s important they are equipped with any information that could be a genetic link. For the women in her family, and the general public, her advice remains the same: “know every inch of your breast so you can increase your chance of finding something and, of course, get your mammograms.”