FLORENCE, S.C. — Cancer takes a toll physically on anyone who receives that diagnosis. The disease, however, also takes an emotional toll on the patient and his or her family.
Jeanine Patten-Coble , founder of Little Pink Houses of Hope, knows all too well the struggle and the hardship of a cancer diagnosis.
“The organization was founded four years ago, after I was battling breast cancer,” Patten-Coble said. “I saw that there was a big gap in service for husbands and children. There was a lot that I as a patient could do, but not a lot we could do together.”
Seeing a need to embrace the entire family during their cancer journey, Little Pink Houses of Hope was created to provide free weeklong vacations to families that have been affected by breast cancer.
“The really cool thing, the thing that makes us unique, is that we take seven to 10 families away at a time,” Patten-Coble said. “They each get their own beach house, they each get all of their meals and all the services provided. The vacation costs between $5,000 and $7,000 per family. To us, that isn’t really relevant, because the impact of our program is having all these families together and creating an unbelievable support network where they are really able to help each other.”
Vacations are available throughout the year, all across the country, including seven retreats in the Carolinas.Patten-Coble said that an amazing part of the vacation is how invested communities become when the families visit.
“The cost of each trip is in the thousands,” Patten-Coblesaid. “We have whittled it down to around $563 coming from us. We get donated beach houses to use and we work to get restaurants to donate meals. This really gives a community a vehicle to give back.”
Patten-Coble said she never would have seen herself traveling the country and speaking about her cancer journey, but she knows that this is exactly what God wants her to do.
“This really is my God-given calling,” Patten-Coblesaid. “I had plenty of excuses for why I shouldn’t do it. I had cancer, I had chemo, I had radiation, I was sick. I was recuperating in my bed with my laptop, typing away, figuring out how to do this. I had to figure out how I follow that calling in this busy world that doesn’t put an emphasis on following God.”
Going into the fourth year, Patten-Coble said she has seen the huge impact made when families have time away from the hectic schedule. She said that even though some people survive the cancer diagnosis, others won’t and the vacation is a way to make memories that will last forever.
“A lot of people feel bad for family members, because they know it is a lot of work,” Patten-Coble said. “I don’t think people necessarily realize the huge emotional, physical and financial toll it takes to put those pieces together in a different way to survive treatment. On these trips, they get to realize that they are not alone, and they get to create wonderful memories together.”
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