In 2009, Jeanine Patten-Coble was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at just 39 years old. After receiving the devastating news, Patten-Coble didn’t give up. No, she dug her heels in—both literally and figuratively—and went for a run the very next day. It was on this run, off the beaten track, where she found her true purpose and calling in the midst of her biggest trial yet.
"I went for a run to figure out the right words to tell my 11-year-old son that I had been diagnosed," Patten-Coble told Southern Living. "My biggest fear was that I was going to take his innocence away and his life would be forever changed as soon as those words came out of my mouth. But when I was least expecting it, God showed up in a big and powerful way in my life."
That sign came in the form of an abandoned compound that Patten-Coble discovered on her run along the beach. She later learned that the grouping of empty and shabby houses was actually a Coast Guard compound that had been deserted five years earlier.
"It really piqued my interest and provided a great distraction," Patten-Coble said. "I thought, what is this place? As I was running away from the compound, I literally was struck with a calling to create a place like this for cancer patients."
Throughout the course of the year, Patten-Coble underwent treatment, which included six months of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. She did this while simultaneously implementing her plans to start a breast cancer retreat for those going through a similar experience. These plans would later turn into the national nonprofit recognized today as Little Pink Houses of Hope, an organization started in 2011 that provides peaceful havens at no cost to those battling breast cancer.
Little Pink Houses of Hope serves women and men in 48 states (yes, even Canada), and Patten-Coble also hosts several retreats in the South, including North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina. To date, Little Pink Houses of Hope has given respite to more than 600 families. Read on for more of Patten-Coble's story on hope, faith, and purpose, and how these beachside destinations are providing joy to families during their darkest hours.