What she didn't do was tell her family and friends about her life-altering diagnosis (save for her disgruntled neighbor, Marlene, who later committed suicide).
Months later, Cathy's cancer is out in the open — for the most part — and now that she has been forced to face her disease, she's also ready to fight it.
"It's been a fun direction to go in since she was a little bit in denial the first season. Now it's like, 'What are my options? What do I have to do,'" creator/executive producer Darlene Hunt tells TVGuide.com. "Obviously, Cathy is the same person, but she's being faced with things that she never thought she'd be faced with so it's fun to see her grow and change."
Although Cathy has progressed from denial to anger, her combative nature will remain intact and inform how she handles the cancer around her loved ones. "You started the last season with her turning into someone who was a little ballsier than you maybe could have imagined her before the start of Season 1," Hunt says. "Now, she's not going to let anyone or anything stand in her way. She's going to be a little mouthier and a little more honest with friends than I think she would have been previously."
Cathy's denial is completely behind her, though."There's such a thing as needing a little bit of healthy denial when you're going through cancer treatment, to just really believe yourself to be getting better no matter what the truth may be," Hunt says. "You're definitely going to see her try to navigate that, which is to stay hopeful sometimes at the expense of the reality."
Instead, the harsh reality of Cathy's situation will largely be left in the hands of her husband, Paul (Oliver Platt). Following her brief affair with Lenny (Idris Elba) and her north-of-the-border kiss with her doctor, Paul is back in the house and more than willing to be Cathy's "cancer-ierge," as Hunt says Platt has dubbed himself.
"We see them interact more as a couple who are fighting this together, and we get to see that in a really great way, but that also comes with its challenges," Hunt says. "We will explore the reality and challenges of medical bills and him trying to keep Cathy out of the frustration of dealing with that. That's a real burden on people going through medical treatment. We see him trying to take all that on himself."
This season Cathy will have multiple sources of support. After losing confidante Marlene at the end of last season, she will find a new friend in fellow cancer patient Lee, played by recurring guest star Hugh Dancy. "We knew early on that we really wanted her to form a relationship with another cancer patient," Hunt says. "Going through an illness and having someone else who truly knows what the experience is like is really special and unique and he plays that role so beautifully, and with humor."
However, just as Cathy reconnects with Paul and forges new bonds, one of her strongest relationships will take a dark turn when her brother, Sean (John Benjamin Hickey), finally finds out. "We saw them come together a lot last year, but Sean finding out that news is going to threaten that closeness and then we might have to work to get them back together," Hunt says. "We really need to explore what his reaction will be because he was the one person she was the most concerned about telling."
Although her coming out will have both upsides and downsides, behind the scenes everyone is happy that she's finally come clean.
"Strangely, this season seems to have flowed a little bit easier," Hunt says. "I think the fact that the cat's out of the bag has actually made the writing of the season a little easier that when it was a secret."
The Big C returns on Monday at 10:30/9:30c on Showtime.