Retreats help families facing breast cancer

rpulley@lsjournal.comJuly 2, 2014 

The founder of Little Pink Houses of Hope will be coming to the area to share her story with people facing the challenge of breast cancer.

Kelley Angel, who’s lived in Lee’s Summit three years, is a cancer survivor and volunteer with the organization that provides free, week-long beach retreats for families with a member diagnosed with breast cancer.

She said the “2014 Tour of Hope” for raising awareness of the program with the organization’s founder Jeanine Patten-Coble traveling a circuit around the nation.

Several area families, including the Lee’s Summit family of Rhonda VanSickle who died in June, have gotten respite and a chance to make good memories by going on retreats together.

“It’s a vacation while you make that horrible journey with your family,” Angel said.

Angel said the story of the organization is inspiring and creates hope. Angel became a volunteer because she too is a cancer survivor.

Patten-Coble was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, just before she was leaving on vacation to a beachfront house in Buxton, N.C., where her family made an annual trip. She went on a run to clear her head and think of how to tell her son the bad news. She stumbled across an abandoned compound of 23 houses that once belonged to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Even when she didn’t know whether she’d survive – she hadn’t started treatment – she began dreaming of starting a program where other families could also connect and get stronger.

Now free retreats are provided in five states at beach locations. Volunteers like Angel are assigned to a family to help them during the retreat, and work with group activities and prepare group meals for the retreats. Patten-Coble will appear at a pink wine tasting, 5-7 p.m. July 3 at Gilda’s Club at 21 W. 43rd St. in Kansas City. For more information go to www.littlepink.org

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