In the small town of Howard, SD, it’s rare you’ll find someone that isn’t familiar with Dave and Corinne Hodges and their friendly, compassionate nature.
As the local grocery store meat man, golf course manager, retired volunteer firefighter, and daycare owners, Dave and Corinne have touched the lives of many friends and neighbors. Whether it be a local benefit, a community event, or just someone in need of some help with meals, you will often find this family at the front of the line ready to help.
In Spring 2018, Dave was in for a routine wellness exam with Misty Rudebusch, PA-C, at Howard Community Health Center. Given a family history of colon cancer and other risk factors, Misty recommended that it was time for him to complete an at-home colorectal cancer screening kit.
Dave was hesitant at first, but thanks to Misty’s strong urging he went ahead. After the screening kit came back positive, Misty recommended a colonoscopy, which can be a lifesaving, but costly procedure.
The Hodges family was faced with a difficult choice – to have the colonoscopy that was needed to protect Dave’s health and livelihood, while figuring out how to deal with the financial burden, or simply put it off and see what happened.
No stranger to the wrath of cancer, the Hodges family was all too familiar with what the outcome could be with the second option. While in his late 50s, Dave’s father was diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer. He had procrastinated on the appropriate screenings and went through a tough battle, needing treatment and radiation, as well as a multitude of medical bills.
Luckily, Dave didn’t have to make the difficult choice between having medical debt or skipping the colonoscopy. That’s where the Horizon Health Foundation came in.
When established in 2016, the Horizon Health Foundation started a cancer care fund to assist with cancer education, care, and support for Horizon Health Care patients. Over the past three years, funds raised through the Howard High School’s Tigers Step Up 2 Cancer program have been used to support this fund.
Once Horizon Health Care reached out to let them know that funds were available to cover the colonoscopy expenses, Dave and Corinne made the decision to go through with the procedure. Horizon’s Patient Care Coordinator, Laura Neises, coordinated the appointments and care with Madison Regional Health, so he was able to go in for the colonoscopy within a few weeks of the initial screening. “Laura took care of the phone calls and coordinated all of the details to also help with the burden, so I didn’t have to miss extra time from work.” said Dave.
The day the Hodges family found out Dave would receive the colonoscopy from the Foundation will be forever engrained in their memories. “I still have the letter from them with the details that they would help,” said Corinne.
Through the colonoscopy, the medical team discovered polyps that were removed and tested. Fortunately for Dave, no further care was needed, and he is now scheduled to come back on a routine basis.
“I truly feel that if I wouldn’t have gone in and caught it early, I would have been in the same boat as my dad,” said Dave. “I would have procrastinated and waited too long if I didn’t receive the call about the Foundation funds being available to assist with the colonoscopy. I would’ve said we can’t afford it and wouldn’t have had it done.”
A father of four, Corinne is also grateful for her husband’s outcome. “Dave is the rock for our family. I will be forever thankful to Misty for encouraging him to do the screenings; he’s stubborn and wouldn’t have listened to anyone but her. Our family trusts her recommendations and thinks very highly of her.”
The neighbors-helping-neighbors mentality has come full circle for the Hodges family, now being on the receiving end of their neighbors’ generosity. This past year, their local high school students’ efforts to raise funds for Tigers Step Up 2 Cancer had a whole new special meaning to them. “It is great to see all of the work that they have done,” said Corinne. “It’s impressive knowing its kids the same age as our kids that are getting together to raise that kind of money and help families like ours. We are lucky to have the small-town service at our clinic and all of these people looking out for you.”
Even if he needed extra convincing at one time, Dave is now a strong believer in the importance of early detection. “Going through the screening and colonoscopy is a lot better than going through the possible alternative. We want to thank everyone from the clinic and Horizon Health Foundation, to the donors, and our students for helping us through what could have been an even more difficult time.”