In September 2009, while helping her husband recover from open heart surgery, Nancy Hodgdon felt a lump in her breast. Following a benign lump in 2006, she thought she had nothing to worry about. However just as her husband was readmitted to the hospital, Nancy received a call from her breast surgeon with the diagnosis of cancer. After undergoing an MRI, her doctors discovered two tumors and Nancy was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer in both breasts.
Before Nancy’s diagnosis, she was focused on helping her husband through cardiac rehabilitation, as well as exercising and making health-conscious decisions. At the time, her son was completing his Marine Corp training at a school of infantry and preparing to deploy to Iraq. Her daughter was a junior at Ohio State, completing a major in Dietetics. Nancy was working as a preschool teaching assistant and also spent time working with a prayer ministry called Moms in Touch.
At first, Nancy was fearful of treating the cancer because of unknown and possibly lasting effects the treatment might have on her body. She researched alternative cancer treatment methods, including natural means, such as changes in her diet and adding supplements to her regimen. After consulting several oncologists, Nancy felt comfortable moving forward with a mastectomy and began chemo treatments in May of 2010.
The Cancer Support Community’s (CSC) affiliate, The Wellness Community- Greater Cincinnati is located in Nancy’s neighborhood and she saw their events and fundraisers regularly publicized in the local newspaper. She had friends who had been involved with CSC so after beginning treatment, Nancy called the local affiliate and soon became a regular. Nancy now frequently participates in the breast cancer support groups, tai chi and yoga classes, guided imagery and cooking classes.
“I wanted to manage my stress,” Nancy said. “My movement and dance class helped me move gently and among friends who were going through similar situations. It’s about fun and laughter, and very light-hearted. It really helped emotionally.”
While making tremendous progress throughout her treatment, tragedy struck Nancy and her family once again. The house that Nancy shared with her family for 22 years was destroyed in a fire. Although her husband and son escaped unharmed, she lost her three pets and all of her possessions. Nancy says the experience was traumatic but she received an outpouring of support from local organizations, including the CSC affiliate in Cincinnatiand thankfully was able to rebuild on their land and back on their feet within nine months.
“CSC was a great resource to help me with the stress of cancer and helped me fight for wellness and rebuild my health, emotionally and physically. I enjoyed the exercise, the controlled breathing, the cooking classes, the friendships, the information and support from the breast cancer support groups.”
Nancy is looking towards the future. She’s spending her time putting her house back together and looking forward to her son’s return from Afghanistan this summer. Her daughter is graduating from college this spring and is hoping to become a registered dietician. “I’m not sweating the small stuff now, just focusing on what’s important everyday. Since our house burned down, there has been a lot less to deal with. It’s given me more time and space for people and I continue to go to CSC to support others.”
Now in remission, Nancy says that she is thankful for the connections that she’s made with CSC and is focusing on health and wellness with her husband, as well as rebuilding their lives.
Today, Nancy goes to yoga and her support group three days a week. She also became involved with The Breast Cancer M.A.P. (Mind Affects the Physical) Project, when she joined a registry of breast cancer survivors online. “I heard about it at CSC and wanted to help by being another set of statistics and sharing my story. Other people’s stories have helped me, so I just wanted to be able to give back.”
The M.A.P. Project is a movement to identify and address the emotional and social needs that accompany a breast cancer diagnosis. By joining this first-of-its-kind registry and sharing their breast cancer experience, women have a unique opportunity to help researchers better understand the full impact of breast cancer and ultimately discover innovative ways to improve the cancer journey for millions. Initiated by the Cancer Support Community’s Cancer Survivorship Research and Training Institute, the M.A.P. Project is made possible through a generous grant from The Breast Cancer Fund of National Philanthropic Trust. For more information or to join the movement, visit the Breast Cancer Registry.
The Cancer Support Community affiliate in Cincinnati offers support and networking groups, education workshops, health and lifestyle classes and social activities. To learn more about the Cincinnati affiliate and their free programs, visit The Wellness Community Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky.
To find a Cancer Support Community affiliate near you, click here.