At the beach: Hope for breast cancer patients

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Cancer — it’s a word that puts fear in our hearts like no other.

It can be especially frightening to young families to hear a diagnosis that, at the very least, will disrupt the structure of their lives and, at worst, can alter the family forever.

I recently spent some time with an organization whose dedicated volunteers provide a week of normalcy to breast cancer patients and their families. Actually, Little Pink Houses of Hope provides more than normalcy, because the one-week beach vacation is not only free of doctors’ visits and chemo or radiation treatments, but it’s also a time for families to get back together, to spend some quality time, and to bond with other families whose members are trying to get through the same experience.

The moms who participated in the Little Pink retreat in Bethany Beach, Del., earlier this month, are about the same age as my children. Their kids, playing on the beach, could just as easily been my grandchildren.

Jeanine Patten-Coble, the breast cancer survivor who founded Little Pink Houses of Hope, recognized a need — a lack of support for family units as they cope with the breast cancer experience — and found a way to meet it — by reaching out to homeowners in beach towns and tapping into the generosity of these communities to provide families with a much-needed respite.

The need is great. Patten-Coble says there are more than 900 applications for each vacation available. What would really be great would be for more communities to find ways to replicate the Little Pink model.

I hope you take a few minutes to read my story and see for yourself. And let me know what you think.

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