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Cancer-survivor offers free retreats to people with breast cancer to gift them 'priceless memories'

She had the idea a day after being diagnosed with breast cancer and started working towards it after successfully finishing her chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Cancer-survivor offers free retreats to people with breast cancer to gift them 'priceless memories'
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Little Pink Houses of Hope

Fighting cancer is one of the biggest challenges anybody can face in their lifetime. It comes with several physical health difficulties, losing precious moments with family, and agonizing mental health issues. A 53-year-old cancer survivor is now helping cancer patients create some precious memories during such distressing times as she completely understands from experience how beautiful memories can be a source of hope during one's cancer battle.


Jeanine Patten-Coble was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her right breast in June 2009. A day after she got the news, she went for a run in North Carolina while on vacation with her family. She was 39 years old at the time and was looking for the right words to break the news of her illness to her then-11-year-old son, Jake. She told PEOPLE, "I was just trying to come up with the Academy Award-winning speech to tell my kid that this is what was happening and just trying to wrap my head around it all at the same time."

While on the run, she came across an abandoned coastal property with a large number of charming but unoccupied houses and she had an idea that would come to change everything. She recalled, "As I was turning to run back to where we were staying. I realized, 'You've got to create a place like this where cancer patients can relax.'" So, once Patten-Coble had successfully finished her chemotherapy and radiation therapy, she started working on her dream. 


She persuaded property management firms and private homeowners across the country to donate houses, townhouses, and condos for free week-long retreats. Over the past decade, these properties have helped hundreds of people with breast cancer—along with their families and children—escape the daily burden of medical appointments and concerns about medical bills. She said, "For many of our families this could possibly be their last vacation."

Patten-Coble and a team of volunteers from her organization, Little Pink Houses of Hope, have given over 2,000 families memorable vacations with food and activities like zip lining in the last 12 years. She said, "We create an environment where they no longer feel so isolated. Walking alongside them as they create priceless memories is such a privilege."


These vacation homes have changed the lives of several people, giving them a much-needed escape from their illness and everything that comes attached with it. The organization's website features several participant stories, one of them being that of Brittany Hansford, a breast cancer survivor who went to stay at the group's Buxton Beach retreat. "Getting first diagnosed with this cancer, I would say, was a scary time in my life," she wrote.


Hansford added that the retreat allowed her to connect with "like-minded people and literally decompress." She further mentioned that she also got the chance to develop relationships and friendships with other couples on this retreat and she "will literally never forget each and every one of them."

In addition to retreats, Patten-Coble is working to raise funds to pay for the one expenditure that Little Pink Houses does not cover: transportation to their getaways. She said, "Thirteen years after they told me I wasn't going to make it, I'm still here. God had way bigger plans for me than letting me go." 

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