When Sara Chivers, was first told she had terminal brain cancer, she was 25- years- old. Her life had just begun with her husband when she realized her cancer would never go away. Her choice was to live as though everyday was her last; over the next couple years, her life with her husband was beautiful, sweet, and simple. After 6 years of marriage, she and her husband, Leigh, considered starting a family.
Unsure of how likely the chances were of passing her cancer down to any future children, Sara’ and Leigh went to their Oncologist. After being told that chances of her winning the Powerball were higher than passing cancer down to her children, Sara and Leigh excitedly and gratefully began planning for a family.
Fast forward 3 years, the happy couple had given birth to two precious boys: Hugh (3) and Alfie (18 months). However, life quickly changed for The Chivers Family when they learned that their little 18-month- old, Alfie, was sick; his diagnosis Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor, otherwise known as brain cancer. Sara and Leigh were absolutely devastated.
After re- grieving the fate of herself and newly grieving the fate of her little boy, Sara was hit with an emotion that she hadn’t quite experienced during her trial; hope. Sara, in the midst of her new ill-fated reality, began to experience a new sense of purpose for her life. While she began to recognize signs of her own health declining, Sara penned a letter that was sure to keep hope on the rise for those she would leave behind and most importantly, her son who shared her fate. Her words are shared below:
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 favorite 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 emphasize 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 in 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.
Sara shared that Alfie’s diagnoses gave her something new to fight for. That something new was a beautiful legacy that would live within her children and her husband, and now the world. Thank you, Sara, for your bravery, kind-heartedness, and love. You are a fighter.