Woman’s Burlington-based Little Pink Houses of Hope helps people battling breast cancer

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Getting a breast cancer diagnosis was a rough time in Jeanine Patten-Coble’s life, but it was also a time she would find her purpose.

“It was immediately after I was diagnosed that my family took an infamous trip to the beach where I went for a run to try to figure out what were the right words to tell my son that I had been diagnosed with cancer,” she said.

She ran across an old abandoned compound of houses on Hatteras Island.

“In that moment, I literally, physically was struck with a calling from God. It was like all of my thoughts went away in my head and it’s like he was just speaking to me through my heart and calling me and asking me to create a place like this for cancer patients to come,” Patten-Coble said.

About a year-and-a-half later, she started Little Pink Houses of Hope, a nonprofit organization that serves both men and women who have breast cancer, by providing a free week-long vacation for their entire family.

The trips are more than a getaway -- the purpose is to make families feel loved and empowered -- reminding them they’re not alone.

“It’s not just a family going to the beach. We take 11 different families from all over the country the same week at the same time. They get a free house, and we do all the meals and the activities. We provide everything for them,” she said.

Little Pink Houses of Hope is based in Burlington.

Since the nonprofit began in 2011, it has provided free retreats for more than 600 families from across the country.

The retreats are held in 18 different locations.

“I feel so blessed to be able to answer the call that He asked,” she said. “I tell people all the time, I have a front row seat to the goodness of the world.”

Applications are open for Little Pink Houses of Hope 2018 retreats. You can apply by visiting littlepink.org.

Being passionate about the nonprofit’s cause is why Patten-Coble has been nominated as one of the 2017 CNN Heroes.

Patten-Coble is currently in the top 25.

The top 10 will be announced this fall.

At that point, people will be able to choose a CNN Hero of the Year through online voting.

Patten-Coble is also the author of the recently published book, Struck by Hope.