Non-profit turns Florida homes into retreats for breast cancer patients

Reporter: Annalise Iraola Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

Families on Marco Island are happily giving up their homes for breast cancer patients and survivors to live in for a week.

Little Pink Houses of Hope, a non-profit, turns normal homes into retreats for families.

Last week, they hosted their very first retreat on Marco Island.

Cancer can be a consuming and often isolating experience, not only for the patient but for their families as well.

“There was lots of things that I could do as a patient to get support, but very little for my family for my husband and my son,” said Jeanine Patten-Coble, cancer survivor, founder and president of Little Pink.

After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Patten-Cobble felt a profound calling to help others going through this experience.

“And so on each of our retreat weeks, we bring 10 to 12 families who are all on the breast cancer journey, and it’s an opportunity for their kids, their spouses, their husbands to be able to get support as well,” Patten-Coble said.

Volunteers like Brad Shaw spent a year planning the Marco Island retreat.

“The minute we started talking about it on the island, it was never yes or no, it’s how much and what can I give you,” Shaw said.

“Within 48 hours of us saying we were coming there, we had like an unbelievable number of properties donated from homeowners, and the local team, there is our biggest team around the entire country,” Patten-Coble said.

The retreat was packed full of bonding activities. Local businesses and restaurants stepped up to donate meals and experiences.

“Marco Island is indeed a special place, and it’s not just the sand and the sun and the dolphins and the palm trees, it’s the people here,” Shaw said.

For retreat participants like Tori Hildwein, a cancer survivor, this trip was special for her family.

“This was our first real vacation as a family of four,” Hildwein said. “I was diagnosed when my son was nine months old, and so having this opportunity was an incredible opportunity for the four of us to all be together.”

Little Pink House of Hope brings together people who understand what each other are going through.

“You have someone else that’s going through similar around a similar age, kids are the same age, and you just, you feel like you’re not alone going through it,” Hildwein said. “To have this week, just to kick back and relax and like I said, enjoy my family and not have to think about doctor’s appointments not have to think about you know what’s next.”

At the end of the week, families had professional photos taken together so they will always remember their time together with Little Pink on Marco Island no matter what comes next.

Hildwein she’s already signed up to volunteer with Little Pink so she can give back to others what she had.

Shaw said that next year’s trip is already in the books, and that they can’t wait to help host a new group of families with the community’s support on their next Marco Island retreat.

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