On the series premiere, we quickly learn that Cathy Jamison has stage four skin cancer. She also has a teenage son and a husband she recently kicked out of the house because he's an immature jackass, having been caught peeing drunkenly in the front yard while his friends played video games inside.
Cathy has a bit of trouble reacting to the news of her cancer, but then she realizes that it gives her a chance to break free from the boring mold she's lived in for so long. For example, she no longer sits back and just takes insults from her classroom of students, actually calling one out for being fat and mean.
Later, Cathy offers this same girl - Andrea, played by Gabourey Sidibe - $100 for every pound of weight she loses/week.
Cathy also goes through with the dream of putting a swimming pool in her yard, even though it's not very big. This project runs into a snag, though, when her grumpy old neighbor calls the cops because zoning codes are violated. Cathey storms over there and tells the lady off, which actually causes her to respect Cathy more and eventually introduce herself. Her name is Marlene.
As for Cathy's husband, Paul, he's sick of sleeping on his sister's couch. S he makes a grand, romantic gesture of eating an onion raw because Cathy previously complained she stopped cooking with that vegetable because Paul objected to it. This causes the couple to reconcile for about 10 minutes, until Paul misinterprets a message left on Cathy's answering machine from her doctor, just calling to check up on her. See, Cathy hasn't told anyone she knows about the cancer.
And she doesn't correct Paul when he storms out, thinking she's having an affair.
Cathy also can't bring herself to tell her brother, Sean, about the disease. He chooses to live on the streets and object to pretty much anything mankind does because it harms the earth.
By the end of the episode, Cathy is determined to make the most out of time remaining on earth. One way she'll do this is my raising the hell out of her son, as she puts it. No longer will she be a boring pushover!