Little Pink Houses of Hope visits Oak Island

Little Pink Houses of Hope visits Oak Island
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 7:20 PM EDT
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OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) - One non-profit is giving families who are dealing with breast cancer a free week-long vacation.

Little Pink Houses of Hope is hosting their annual retreat for thirteen families who have been dealing with breast cancer. The goal is to give families an escape from their cancer diagnosis.

“It’s been tough. But we just kind of make it through. Bill and I are a good team and in crisis. So we figured it out. And, we have had lots of support from the community and our church and our family,” said Donna Taylor.

Donna and her husband’s lives were flipped upside down when Donna was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.

“It was the night after my son’s graduation party. And I don’t know, I was laying in bed, and I just felt the lump and knew right away, it wasn’t right. So I tried to make an appointment, with my doctor, but she was out of town. So I had to do it with another doctor in the practice. And she said, ‘Well, you know, we’ll just, you’re so young.’ And I was 37 at the time, and she was like, ‘You know, you just, we’ll see, it’s probably nothing,’” said Donna.

After running multiple tests, doctors were able to confirm the lump was cancerous. The diagnosis was the beginning of a year-and-a-half-long journey including hour-long drives for chemotherapy and radiation, multiple surgeries and a completely new way of life.

Donna’s husband, Bill, said his wife’s diagnosis changed their family forever. Bill and Donna are parents to five kids, and with cancer looming the family had to adjust.

“It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. I mean, the first part of the chemo, every day, being sick, just listening and hearing and you can’t do anything about it, you’re helpless, hopeless. And it’s just, there’s nothing you can do about it. And then the same thing with the surgery and the radiation and there’s nothing that one can say or one can do to help be there other than just be there,” said Bill.

However, Bill’s hopelessness soon turned into hope.

In Oak Island, families like the Taylors get the chance to enjoy the water and connect with other families dealing with the diagnosis.

“Just unity in our family, we’ve all been pulled in so many different areas that like this time to like, unplug and connect with each other has been priceless,” said Donna.

“Yeah, just the time to relax and go break, connect with everything and actually not have to worry about cancer for a week,” said Bill.

Donna and Bill came from Delaware. The trip allows people from across the country to reconnect and forget about the stress. Families participating in the retreat have the opportunity to enjoy the beach, kayaking and group dinners.

“It’s the best feeling ever for us, we have people who may have never seen the ocean before. We have people today who’ve never been in a kayak before. They get to come and do things that maybe they’ve only dreamed about doing, or never thought they could do. And they come here and they do them. And the expressions on their face are just fantastic,” said Jody Carroll, director of Little Pink Houses of Hope.

Carroll said being able to take a financial burden off families makes all the difference. The money to pay for each family’s stay comes from community donations.

“Any kind of medical situation in your family or for yourself, you know how expensive it can be. Plus, trying to maintain a house and family and kids and activities. The finances can be so burdensome. So in this way, we’re able to give families a week with no financial concerns about what they’re going to do while they’re here,” said Carroll.

The retreat is open to people of all ages. The Taylors brought along three of their kids.

“Very relaxing, it’s been a very chaotic crazy life, it’s been amazing. And just the fact that we are not having to pay for it is amazing. We’re in a very gorgeous house, my mom estimated it to be like $4,000 a night and it’s all for free, it’s amazing,” said Payton Taylor, Donna and Bill’s daughter.

The goal is to leave families feeling inspired.

“Just being able to talk with people who have gone through trials is like, just encouraging to be like, ‘Oh, you get it. Oh, you get it.’ like it’s just very, it’s been very encouraging,” said Donna.

Donna is continuing with treatments while on the trip. The kids say at the end of the day they feel grateful for having this time to spend with their family.