Every mother dreams of the incredible person her child will grow up to be. From the time they first kick below mommy’s heart, to the years that flash before our eyes, being a mother is an indescribable journey of hopes, dreams and cherishing every moment God gives you.
For Sara Chivers, motherhood is more than just collecting treasured moments, it’s a fight for her life, and now that of her 18-month-old son, Alfie.
In March, the 34-year-old mother of two was told she has terminal brain cancer. She had previously fought and beat cancer in 2008, but it has since returned in the form of three brain tumors.
As if that pill wasn’t hard enough to swallow, last month, Sara and her husband, Leigh, were told that their 18-month-old son, Alfie, had also been diagnosed with brain cancer.
“Since his diagnosis, we have been in absolute shock and disbelief,” Sara told TODAY. “There are no words that do justice to the way in which our hearts have been shattered for our beautiful little boy. He should not have to go through this pain and suffering.”
Sara and Alfie have different forms of cancer, and doctors believe the cases are completely unrelated. In fact, an oncologist told her there was a better chance of winning the lottery than a mother and child developing different types of brain cancer.
Since March, Sara has undergone three rounds of chemotherapy and surgery to remove most of her largest tumor. Though the treatments have bought her more time with Alfie and his 3-year-old brother, Hugh, it isn’t enough for her to be able to “mother them like I always dreamed,” she said.
“Alfie’s diagnosis has given me something else to fight for,” she continues. “It’s not about me anymore. It’s all about him.”
Knowing that her time with them is shorter than she can bear, Sara recently wrote a love letter to her sons. Full of motherly advice and sound words of wisdom, Sara’s letter has since been shared across the Internet.
Dear Hugh and Alfie,
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 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 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.
There’s not much comfort to be found in a terminal cancer diagnosis. Still, Sara has more than enough to fight and live for.
The road ahead will not be easy for the Chivers family, regardless of the outcome, but we believe in a God of miracles. My prayer today is that as Alfie and his mother face the fight of their lives, they would be surrounded by the Holy Spirit, and be able to experience the Peace of the Lord, which surpasses ALL understanding.