Thanks to a nonprofit support group, eight breast cancer patients or survivors will get a week’s vacation with their families in a Gulf-front resort in Orange Beach Aug. 18-24.
“Little Pink Houses of Hope is a nonprofit that provides vacations to cancer patients and their families,” local organizer Robi Jones said. “We know that a cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects the whole family.”
This is one of about 20 retreats around the country and in the Caribbean the group provides for the patients and families.
“We provide all the lodging, the activities and the meals for the families,” Jones said. “The only thing they have to provide is their transportation to and from the retreats. We have eight families coming for a total of 43 family members.”
Other retreats are in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Arizona, Maryland, Michigan and two couples-only retreats in Costa Rica and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Most retreats count on individual homeowners that have beach homes that donate their homes,” Jones said. “So that could be in several locations.”
But in Orange Beach that’s different. All families will be staying in the opulent Turquoise Place.
“We’re very fortunate Turquoise Place provides all the lodging for our families, which is huge,” Jones said. “About half of that is privately owned condos and the other half are the kind of hotel side of Turquoise Place through Spectrum Resorts.”
Something special happens when all the families are in the same place, Jones said. It’s a dynamic she’s seen grow during her six years bringing the retreat to Orange Beach.
“It’s amazing to see what happens to the families during the week,” Jones said. “It’s just amazing to see how they just build a community of their own.”
Retreats are open to breast cancer patients who are currently in treatment or have finished treatment within the past 12 months, according to the group’s website. It was started by breast cancer survivor Jeanine Patten-Coble in 2009, just after receiving her diagnosis. Applications are available at littlepink.org.
A committee reviews the applications and selects which families or couples will be accepted for the retreat.
“They also look at patients that have advanced disease like stage three and four breast cancer patients because we know that there may be some limited time with those families,” Jones said. “It can be the breast cancer survivor themselves, it can be a family member who applies. Many of our volunteers are survivors or they have been through a retreat with a family member.”
Local volunteers also help for a successful week for the families. Seven restaurants, a church, a Mardi Gras krewe and several city departments, among other businesses, contribute to making the week special for the families.
“The Orange Beach community has been very supportive of us over those six years,” Jones said. “We have restaurants that donate gift cards, we have organizations like Mardi Gras societies and others that provide meals on-site for our families.”
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