Oa Hackett

Oa Hackett is the founder of littlelifts, a charity in Norwich that is making a real difference to hundreds of women battling breast cancer and going through chemotherapy.

According to Macmillan Cancer, one in four people don’t have support from friends or family while going through chemotherapy. It’s a shocking statistic that is particularly important to highlight in October as many people from across East Anglia fundraise for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In 2014, Oa was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through six rounds of chemotherapy. During her treatment she experienced symptoms that included difficulty when swallowing and suffering from a bone ache that made it impossible for her to walk some days.

“It’s hard coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis but on top of that to be told that you will need to go through a gruelling treatment that will poison you is so upsetting. The symptoms of the chemotherapy drain you on a physical and emotional level and some days it can be really tough.

“I was lucky to have incredibly supportive friends and family who would often send me care packages and gifts that helped give me a boost during my treatment. I was so touched that they had made such an effort and it was their acts of kindness that inspired me to set up littlelifts.”

Following treatment, Oa decided that she wanted to set up littlelifts to help give other women a boost during their chemotherapy. She made a life-changing decision to take a sabbatical from her job at the Prince’s Trust to create Comfort Boxes filled with items that give practical support and improve emotional wellbeing.  The goodies in her boxes include herbal tea, chocolate, lip balm and a water bottle.

Oa’s Comfort Boxes went down so well at local hospitals that she reached her long term goals for the charity in her first year. The charity has raised an impressive £48,000 to date through fundraising events that include a popular four hour ‘hoop-a-thon’ that took place earlier this year.

Liz, 47, from Norwich was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in March 2018. Before she started her chemotherapy treatment, she was given a Comfort Box by her Oncologist at the Norwich University Hospital: “I found listening to the very long list of side-effects chemotherapy could be very difficult. I felt like a lab experiment. What you can find out you can do on this journey is incredible and the littlelifts box certainly helped with that. It helped me to get ready for action and it gave me a feeling of solidarity knowing that other women had trodden the same path before me and managed it.”

Looking forward, Oa is committed to helping as many women coming to terms with a breast cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy treatment as possible. As part of her work she organises ‘packing parties’ to put together littlelifts’ Comfort Boxes. If you are interested in getting involved with littlelifts, please get in touch by email: hello@littlelifts.org.uk

Oa has been supported by the East of England Co-op through donations, including the herbal teas provided in littlelifts Comfort Boxes. The East of England Co-op is proud to support littlelifts’ fundraising activities whenever it can and invited the charity to join them on their stand at the Royal Norfolk Show earlier this year.