Many people fundraise in celebration of a person who beat an illness, or in memory of a person who lost their battle, making the challenge very personal. However, challenges don’t come more personal than Oa Mackdonald’s, who is fundraising for Big C: Norfolk’s Cancer Charity after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Oa was diagnosed with breast cancer on the 28th July at the age of 28-years-old. The months after the diagnosis were understandably extremely tough. Oa says, “The day I was diagnosed is still a blur to me. I just remember I had a million thoughts running through my head as I tried to take in all the information about stages, treatments and side-effects. Something I do remember clearly, though, is being told I would lose my hair as a result of chemotherapy. A few weeks later, after taking some time to come to terms with all the changes which were about to happen to me, I decided that chemotherapy would not take my hair away, but rather I would be the one to give it away.”
Upon making this big decision, Oa decided to use the event to raise money for a charity which she describes as being “invaluable” to her family and herself since her diagnosis; Big C. Big C was created after two young men from Norfolk found themselves having to travel to London or Cambridge for their cancer treatment. The Big C say that the two men “often found this journey harder than the treatment itself and they vowed the people of Norfolk & Waveney would have access to the best treatment and support in their local areas.” Since the appeal began in 1980, the charity has raised over £20 million.
As well as fundraising for Big C, Oa also decided to donate her hair to a children’s wig charity called Little Princess. Little Princess provide real-hair wigs, free of charge, to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment.
Oa tells us more “I arranged a head-shaving party for a week after my first chemo session, which was just before my hair would start to fall out, and set up a Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. I was determined that more good could come out of the bad. The Big C Centre has been invaluable to my family and I, offering a friendly face for a chat and cuppa, as well as providing information and sessions on nutrition, exercise and emotional well-being. There are also workshops available that range from scarf tying to make-up sessions. Although losing my hair was incredibly emotional and hard, I took comfort in the fact that I had donated my hair and also raised vital funds for a local cancer charity. It also allowed me to re-gain some control and decide for myself when I was going to loose my hair, and not leave it to chemo to decide!
On January 2nd 2015 I finished chemotherapy and I will start the next stage of my treatment in the coming weeks. Chemotherapy isn’t the easiest thing to go through and there have been some really tough times, but also some very special times too; I have now raised over £7,500 for the Big C as a result of the fantastic support I received from everyone who chose to make a donation.”
You can sponsor Oa retrospectively for the challenge she undertook via her Virgin Money Giving page.