In March, Sara Chivers was told her cancer was terminal. As Dearly previously reported, the 34-year-old mother of two had successfully battled brain cancer in 2008 only to have it return in 2017.sara_chivers/Instagram
Compounding the family’s grief that the life of the beloved wife and mother was coming to an end was the discovery that her toddler, Alfie is fighting for his life, too.
A few months shy of his second birthday, Alfie was diagnosed with atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, a rare and fast-growing cancer of the brain and spine, according to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Australia’s ABC reported that the odds of developing this form of cancer are 1 in 3 million.sara_chivers/Instagram
Chivers is also suffering from a rare cancer, anaplastic astrocytoma, a malignant form of brain cancer, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Chivers’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Bhadu Kavar, called the situation of mother and child both suffering from rare cancers “exceptionally, exceptionally rare,” according to Australia’s ABC.
In an interview with The New Daily, Chivers said her son’s cancer diagnosis had been the driving force behind her will to go on:
“Alfie’s diagnosis has given me something else to fight for. It’s not about me anymore. It’s all about him.”
The New Daily now reports that Chivers has been moved from her home in Melbourne, Australia, to palliative (hospice) care in the same hospital where son, Alfie, is being treated. Although Chivers has undergone surgery to shrink her brain tumor, the treatment was not successful.sara_chivers/Instagram
Chivers told The New Daily as her cancer grows it has become harder to be the mom she wants to be:
“I don’t really know how much time I have left. Right now, I’m more terrified about not how much time, but how much quality time.
Each day brings new challenges. First, it was just some physical weakness, then it impacted my ability to walk or care for the boys.
Now, the most devastating impact is my speech and energy to even think clearly are being taken away from me.”
As for Alfie, doctors informed Chivers and her husband, Leigh, that treatment could potentially save his life but not without major risks. Alfie would need to undergo high-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but he could lose his ability to walk and talk.
Alfie had been successfully admitted into a trial program at St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee; however, complications from surgery prevented him from enrolling in time, reports The New Daily.sara_chivers/Instagram
The program would have removed Alfie from his mother for up to a year, an agonizing sacrifice Chivers and her husband were willing to make, as Leigh explained to The New Daily:
“Imagine trying to choose between compromising the quality of your wife’s final moments or your son’s entire future. It was a devastating choice. But in the end, with Sara’s strength, it was really simple. It all came back to doing what we believed would be best for our son.”
Alfie will now undergo three months of high-dose chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery in Australia. Chivers said already her son has suffered major developmental setbacks, but there are bright moments:
“He can no longer walk or crawl like he could, but it is just a matter of time and training to learn again. Alfie still has every bit of his personality and he is saying new words again each couple of days.”
When Chivers first learned of her terminal prognosis, she published an open letter in The New Daily, so that her sons, Alfie and Hugh, 3, may know her after she is gone.sara_chivers/Instagram
I won’t be around to see you grow up. It’s a hard thing to say and even harder to face. You will have to hear from others the little things that made me me: my perfume of choice is Michael Kors, my favourite meal is spaghetti bolognese, winter is my preferred season. I wish I was a better cook. I’m a keeper of mementos – tiny hospital name tags, the poem Leigh wrote for my 21st birthday, first baby clothes.
I know your Dad, and our village of family and friends, will keep me alive for you as much as they can, but there are some things I want you to hear from me.
Don’t be afraid of expressing your emotions. I will never tire of hearing ‘I love you’ from Leigh, you boys, my family, friends.
Love hard. As they say, it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. That’s how I feel about you both. Heartbroken doesn’t come close to describing the pain I feel at not being in your lives in the future, but I would never change or forego the time we have spent together and the immense joy you have brought me. You are without a doubt my proudest accomplishments.
Pay attention to study but know there is so much more to school life than textbooks. Play team sports. Try a musical instrument. Learn a language.
Always try your best; I could never ask any more of you. Never fear failure – you will learn more from mistakes than successes. There’s never anything more certain than change so embrace it. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Travel as much as possible — it will shape who you are.
Be brave in your convictions and believe in yourself. Never tease or ridicule someone because they’re different to you. You will be a better person by surrounding yourself with people who will challenge your views and beliefs.
I can never emphasise enough the importance of good table manners. Remember to say please and thank you. Address your friends’ parents by Mrs, Ms or Mr unless told otherwise. Make your bed when you stay at other people’s houses, and always offer to clear their table and do the dishes.
You will have friends for a season, friends for a reason, friends for life. It won’t take too long to work out which ones fall into which category.
Family comes first. We will always be there for you to fall back on regardless of any mistakes or bad choices, and will help you through tough times and to celebrate life’s wins.
Be kind to your Dad. It won’t be easy for him raising you alone, but every decision he makes will be with your best interests at heart. He is an exceptional father and role model. Don’t let him doubt himself or the wonderful job he will do shaping you into the men I dream of you growing up to be.
There will come a time when he wants to find happiness again with a new partner. Accept and embrace his choice, and know she will be a positive female influence in your lives too. I have absolute faith that he will make the right decision, for him and you both, and I hope she enriches your lives as much as you’ve all enriched mine.
Your Dad is the most admirable, courageous man I have ever known. He is my companion, my rock, my everything. He has shown true grit in the face of our adversities, and without him beside me I would have crumbled.
I will be forever grateful for the time we spent together, the memories we created, the love we shared. It was always him. Always will be.
Now, as Chivers prepares to say goodbye, she explained she must face each obstacle before her step by step, all while embracing the best of every moment. As she told The New Daily:
“It’s about trying to get out of bed each day, putting one foot in front of the other so that I can spend time with my boys. Although I’m restricted in what I can do, I’m still enjoying the little things in life, like a morning coffee with Leigh.
The reality is unthinkable things happen to ordinary people. I want people to know I am not a fictional concept, but a woman like you or your wife, daughter, mother.
I am terrified of dying but I want to shine a light on a disease which isn’t picky in its victims. I want a cure for my beautiful Alfie.
Chivers has urged people to make donations to Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer and Cure Brain Cancer to help raise money for brain cancer research. A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help the family.Instagram
Leigh told The New Daily when it comes to watching his wife fight for her life and for Alfie’s, it’s her bravery that he sees shine most:
“Sara only knows how to be Sara. She’s brave enough to always be honest no matter what the situation, which means she can connect with anyone and everyone. I fell in love with Sara and this unique bravery, and it has been one of the things that has sustained us.”
As for Alfie, despite the heartbreaking challenges he faces each day, only thing matters — being with momma. As the New Daily reports, the toddler “wriggles with delight” each time he’s taken to see her.