Jeanine Patten-Coble is my guest on this week’s episode. She is an 11-year breast cancer survivor and founder of Little Pink Houses of Hope. In 2009, at the age of 39, Jeanine was diagnosed with stage 3, HER2 invasive ductal carcinoma. Jeanine shared her story behind the pink ribbon from diagnosis to treatment. She also talked about Little Pink Houses of Hope and how the organization supports breast cancer families.
Jeanine conducted regular self-breast exams throughout her life. In June 2009, at the age of 39, Jeanine found a lump in her breast that had not been present the previous month. Her doctor was almost certain that it was breast cancer and immediately sent her for a biopsy the day before she had gone on vacation.
Jeanine and her family went on vacation and she received the call confirming that she had breast cancer while on vacation. She was subsequently diagnosed with stage 3, HER2 positive invasive ductal carcinoma. Jeanine recalls feeling humbled when she received the diagnosis and an overwhelming sense of doing whatever would be necessary to not leave her family behind.
Jeanine underwent 6 months of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which had successfully shrunken the tumor. In December 2009, she underwent surgery. Jeanine had 42 rounds of radiation followed by Herceptin. Jeanine experienced cardiotoxicity as a result of the Herceptin and was having conversations about possibly being put on the transplant list. Five weeks after stopping the Herceptin, her heart had fully recovered.
Jeanine founded Little Pink Houses of Hope in 2010. She had the calling to start the organization just after getting her own diagnosis. While on a run during her vacation, Jeanine came across a number of beachfront homes that were unoccupied and was inspired to create a place like that for cancer patients.
Little Pink Houses of Hope provides free, week-long vacations to cancer patients and their families. Currently, there are 20 different communities in the US, Virgin Islands, and Costa Rica. Ten to twelve families attend a vacation/retreat at the same time but have their own houses. Fun and empowering programs are provided for the patient and their families. While COVID has resulted in some changes to community programming at the retreats, Little Pink is still sending families on vacation. In addition, Little Pinks now offers virtual retreats.
Breast cancer patients at all stages of diagnosis are welcome to attend. Priority is given to those who are currently in treatment. The application for next year’s retreats for participants and volunteers opened on November 15th.