Mom Who Survived Breast Cancer Now Works to Give Free Vacations to Other Women Who Have Been Diagnosed
She’s not just building memories, she’s building hope.
Every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2009, at the age of 39, Jeanine Patten-Cobble was one of them.
The day after she received her devastating diagnosis her family went to the beach on their annual vacation. Dreading having to tell her then 11-year-old son the news, she decided to go for a run instead.
And in the midst of running away from her present, she ended up finding her future.
How the Idea for a Cancer Retreat Centre Was Born
During her run, Jeanine happened upon a compound of 43 old, abandoned houses. And that’s when she got a crazy, wonderful idea.
“As I started my run back to our beach house, I kept thinking that these houses were meant to be used for something,” she said. “I could paint them pink and create a cancer retreat center where families could come to get away from the daily life of cancer.”
The proverbial seed was planted. One which she credits to divine inspiration.
Throughout the course of a year, Jeanine underwent intensive treatment for stage three breast cancer. It included months of chemotherapy, 42 rounds of radiation, and two surgeries. Through it all, she worked on her plan to start a breast cancer retreat for fellow breast cancer survivors.
In 2011, her dreams became a reality. The non-profit organization, Little Pink Houses of Hope, opened its doors, giving cancer sufferers and their families a vacation from breast cancer.
A vacation they desperately need.
How One Breast Cancer Survivor Is Giving Others a Much-Needed Respite
(And it’s not just for families, single people with breast cancer can also apply.)
The premise behind it is simple. Jeanine and her team partner with property management companies and private homeowners to donate fully-furnished vacation homes, townhouses, and condos for weeklong beach retreats.
Additionally, they also secure donated meals and services, including dedicated volunteers who assist the families with their basic needs.
Also included are family-friendly activities such as paddle boarding, boat rides, ziplining, and fun date nights for couples.
The best part of all? They’re free. But the experience they provide is priceless.
Because it’s not just about a fun vacation. It’s about finding community, joy, and hope during a time that savagely strips it away.
“While retreats offer a much-needed respite from schedules dictated by medical appointments and the heavy burden of healthcare bills, the real value of retreats is in the supportive environment that helps families rediscover hope and joy,” Jeanine said.
A Life-Changing Vacation For Breast Cancer Survivors
Since 2011, Little Pink has served thousands of cancer-stricken families. What started with one beach house in North Carolina has now expanded to offer retreats in multiple states.
“Sometimes in life, God can take our deepest moment of discouragement and open a door for us to make an impact.”– Jeanine Patten-Coble
Currently, there are 21 retreat locations across 10 states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Maryland, Arizona, Michigan, U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, and California.
For the participants, the experience is nothing short of life-changing.
“It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” said Jeanine. “For most of the families that come, it would be financially difficult for them to afford it. It’s also difficult when you’re going through cancer treatment to prioritize a vacation, especially not knowing what lies ahead in the near future.”
Tonya Potter, who underwent chemo and a double mastectomy at 33 years old with a 10-year-old daughter, is just one of the many inspiring Little Pink stories.
“Meeting these women at the little pink retreat and hearing their stories, and meeting their families was inspiring and empowering,” she said. “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to enjoy life again. I forgot what it was like to be free and be me.”
Cancer is a thief. It not only robs its’ victim but it robs their families and loved ones as well. Stealing innocence, happiness, peace, and life as you know it and replacing them with fear, worry, loneliness, and unbearable grief.
And Jeanine knows this firsthand. In the midst of her own overwhelming darkness, she not only battled cancer but also fought to provide a beacon of light for others on a similar journey.
She isn’t just giving away free vacations, she is giving hope, love, and a community of supporters to walk with the families because no one should have to face cancer alone.
To find out more, donate, or apply for your own retreat, check out littlepink.org.