Hand picked with love - the Norfolk charity sending out treats to women with breast cancer
- Credit: James Rouse Photography
Oa Hackett was just 28 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It plunged her into a terrifying time of appointments, treatment and fear for the future.
But she was buoyed up by the thoughtful gifts friends sent – little treats specially chosen to help her through. As she began to feel better she decided to put together similar boxes of carefully-chosen treats for other people affected by breast cancer.
Since 2017 littlelifts has given out more than 2,700 boxes packed with practical products to alleviate the side-effects of treatment, mood-boosting luxuries – and kindness.
Now the charity sends out more than 3,000 boxes a year to people undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, including those treated at hospitals in Norfolk and Suffolk, and running the charity has become a full-time job for Oa, helped by two members of staff, many volunteers and fundraisers and a board of trustees.
“Each littlelifts box is carefully hand-packed with love and contains over 20 carefully chosen items. They include a heat pack to help with joint and muscle pain, a soft toothbrush to be kind to more sensitive gums, and chilli oil and herbs to bring flavour to foods that may taste a little different, and moisturiser to help with sensitive skin,” said Oa.
“But it’s not just what’s inside the box that’s important. Many people experience breast cancer treatment as a lonely and difficult time. Our recipients tell us that the sense of solidarity and kindness they experience when they receive their littlelifts box is just as valuable as the contents.”
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When Oa found a lump in her breast while showering after a long, cold, wet and windy cycle ride she didn’t think it was anything serious and put off going to see her doctor for several weeks. Then came the shocking diagnosis. Oa, who was born and brought up in Norfolk and lives near Norwich with her husband Greg, was treated at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital undergoing chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. She is now on hormone treatment for 10 years and said: “I am so incredibly grateful to the medical team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for providing the support and treatment I needed. It’s because of this that I want to give something back.”
Fiona, from Norwich, said: “The littlelifts box made me feel that someone was thinking about what I would go through and what I would need to help get me through my treatment. It was full of kindness.” Jill, who lives in north Norfolk, said: “I wasn’t sure I had the strength to deal with what was to come. My world had tilted on its axis and I felt scared. Until you’ve been in a deep dark hole you don’t realise you need some help, the littlelifts box made me feel that it was going to be possible.”
During the pandemic the littlelifts team set up The little Kindness Fund to help women further afield too.
Anyone interested in finding out more or helping should get in touch. “We are always looking for lovely people to join our amazing littlelifts community,” said Oa. “Whether it is giving up some time, joining an event, making a donation, getting your place of work involved or taking on your own fundraising challenge, we would love to hear from you!” littlelifts.org.uk