“There is nothing little about your little lifts. You have found a way of making me feel cared for, supported and prepared for what is to come” – Rebecca, July 2019, NNUH.
In the UK, every year approximately 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, that's one woman told every ten minutes, making it the most common cancer. There are also around 36,000 women living with a secondary breast cancer diagnosis.
We’re on a mission to support these women by offering them a littlelifts box at the beginning of, or during, their chemotherapy treatment, but with your help we can launch support for those who face radiotherapy as part of their breast cancer treatment.
Our Founder's story - meet Oa
In 2014, at the age of 28, Oa was diagnosed with primary breast cancer. What followed was a whirlwind of emotions and medical appointments before she began her chemotherapy treatment. It was a scary time, with lots of uncertainty and an overwhelming sense of the unknown.
Leading up to and during her treatment, Oa was fortunate to have a support network of friends and family to help her along the way – lifting those down days with a few little treats to relieve some of the side effects she experienced. The impact these small tokens had on Oa's wellbeing was huge, and so the concept of the 'littlelifts box' was born.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is when cells in the breast develop in an uncontrolled way and form a tumour.
Primary breast cancer means the cancer has not spread beyond the breast or lymph nodes under the arm. It is curable.
Secondary breast cancer is when the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes to the brain, lungs, liver and/or bones. It is incurable.
And how is it treated?
There are many different treatments, depending on the circumstances of the patient and their cancer.
Chemotherapy is one of these and it involves using chemical, systemic anti-cancer treatment (or SACT, for short). It is a very different experience for each patient and the side effects can be very unpleasant.
Radiotherapy is another way. This involves high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells, it can be very painful on the skin causing it to burn.
How we work
We work with hospitals in Norfolk and Suffolk so that women undergoing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer can receive a littlelifts box at the start of, or during, their treatment. The fantastic Oncology and Breast Care Teams we work with give out littlelifts boxes directly to patients.
"Chemotherapy can be a gruelling time for some women. We are very medicalised and what I love about this is that it is so personal. The box is personal to the woman going through treatment and provides them with a bit of hope." - Sharon Thain, Breast Care Team Leader, JPUH
What is a littlelifts box?
We understand that every woman's experience of breast cancer and its treatment is different. Our littlelifts boxes are full of carefully selected items to help alleviate some of the side effects that women may experience during chemotherapy treatment. Each box is hand packed with love. We really care about the environment and look to source products that are locally and ethically made, re-usable, eco-friendly and organic.
Click here to find out what's in a box.
Our progress so far
At littlelifts, we call ourselves small, but mighty! We are only a team two (Oa and Kay) supported by a dedicated board of trustees and we certainly couldn't do what we do without the generous support of our incredible #littleliftscommunity.
We know that small gestures make a big difference to the lives of women facing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer because so many have told us so.
Since the launch of our littlelifts boxes at the end of November 2017 we have provided close to 1000 women with a littlelifts box, but we want to do more!
This is where your support really matters
We want to listen to feedback from women with breast cancer and the hospital partners we work with. We want to do this by launching support to women who face radiotherapy as part of their cancer treatment.
It is estimated that in the next 12 months over 700 women in Norfolk & Suffolk will face radiotherapy as part of their cancer treatment. Feedback tells us that these women can often feel inferior to women who have undergone chemotherapy treatment and do not think they need support despite often struggling with low mood, anxiety and fatigue.
We are planning to create a new littlelifts box for this group of women to be launched at the end of March 2020 - we can't do this without you!
£5000 will allow us to support 100 women with a radiotherapy box across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Our radiotherapy boxes
Feedback from focus groups and discussions with Radiotherapy Teams has provided vital feedback to what our radiotherapy boxes will contain:
- Water bottle & cordial because it is important to stay hydrated during radiotherapy treatment.
- Moisturiser – can help to relieve sensitive skin.
- Munchy Seeds – provide nutritious nibbles to snack on or sprinkle.
- Teabags – herbal teas can aid sleep and help to calm and hydrate.
- Hot chocolate – a hug in a mug for warmth and comfort.
- Chocolate – for a little moment of luxury.
- Puzzle book and pen – to help pass the time during treatment.
- Deodorant – radiotherapy teams may advise using a metal free deodorant.
- Shower gel – using unperfumed shower gel or soap helps to keep the area clean during treatment.
- Eye mask – a heated eye mask aids relaxation.
- Tote bag – to carry all the essentials to radiotherapy treatment. Plus, always useful for shopping!
Help us support more women like Kim
“To receive the box made me feel that I wasn’t just surrounded by a medical team, but by people who had been through what I was about to go through. It is a box of sheer warmth and delight; it solved that very hard day for me.”
We'd love you to be part of our ever growing #littleliftscommunity! Thank you for taking the time to read about what we do. Love from us all at littlelifts x