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Pick-me-up box scheme expanded to include women with incurable breast cancer

PUBLISHED: 14:54 20 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:48 23 August 2019

Left to right, Littlelifts operations and events executive Kay Phoenix, Littlelifts founder Oa Hackett, consultant oncologist Dr Susanna Alexander, and nurse Jenny Leeder. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Left to right, Littlelifts operations and events executive Kay Phoenix, Littlelifts founder Oa Hackett, consultant oncologist Dr Susanna Alexander, and nurse Jenny Leeder. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Geraldine Scott

Women living with incurable breast cancer will now benefit from comfort boxes given out at Norfolk hospitals.

Charity Littlelifts was started by Oa Hackett, from Bawburgh, in 2017 after she went through chemotherapy for breast cancer three years earlier.

During her treatment she received boxes filled with gifts from friends, and she launched her charity so others could get that same comfort, but with practical items designed for those having treatment.

These include herbal tea, heat packs, and lotions as examples. But also unique touches such as a small plant, which should be grown by the time treatment is coming to an end.

Over the last two years the charity has gone from strength to strength, expanding to all Norfolk hospitals plus Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals but it was only available for women with primary breast cancer - when the disease has not spread.

But now women with secondary breast cancer - where cancer cells have spread elsewhere - will also receive the pick me up boxes.

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Mrs Hackett said: "A lot of women are feeling supported, they're feeling not alone, so we want to be able to offer that to women with secondary breast cancer too."

Dr Susanna Alexander, who treated Mrs Hackett and also helped launch the charity at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), said many of her patients had been asking after the boxes.

And she said it was key that people did not think a secondary breast cancer diagnosis meant the patient would die straight away, even though the condition is incurable, as many people could live for many years while having treatment.

She said: "We need to be looking after their quality of life. So I think this will make a huge difference."

Mrs Hackett said around 125 women per year will face chemotherapy treatment for secondary breast cancer at the NNUH.

She added: "There is some inequality between primary and secondary and there's a national campaign to say it's secondary, not second rate."

Dr Alexander said: "From my perspective patients say it really helps them to know someone else has been through the same thing and is out the other side.

Mark Davies, chief executive at NNUH, said: "We are proud to be a supporter of this important local charity which helps our patients through their cancer journey. It is very pleasing to see Littlelifts expanding to other hospitals and to know that more women will be benefitting from their thoughtful approach."

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