This mom with terminal cancer found out her son has cancer, too

Tess Follett/GoFundMe

Sara Chivers and her husband Leigh have two boys, Hugh and Alfie. Sara was first diagnosed with cancer when she was 25. At the time, her surgeries and treatments were successful. Nine years later, at the age of 34, she found out the cancer was back, and this time—it was terminal. Her fight to live began again, and soon there after, her family received more devastating news: their youngest son, 18-month-old Alfie, had brain cancer, too.

The mother and son’s types of cancer appear to be unrelated, and according to doctors, the chances of this happening to a mother and a son at the same time are extremely rare.

According to the 7.30, her neurosurgeon has never seen another parent and child with these two conditions at the same time.

“I think that’s exceptionally, exceptionally, rare,” he told the publication, comparing it to a case of lightning striking twice.

The parents were, of course, devastated by the news.

“He hasn’t been able to do all of the things that I’ve been able to do, you know, in my 34 years to date. So it’s just horrible, absolutely horrible and heartbreaking,” Sara said.

“You just don’t expect the worst scenario to keep happening over and over again,” her husband told the publication. “But, it has for us. A couple of times.”

Alfie has already undergone two surgeries and will be continuing treatment to ” give him the best chance possible,” according to a GoFundMe page.

Her son’s illness has given the mom even more to fight for.

“Instead of sitting idle, I’ll be using all of my willpower to champion his cause,” she said. “He needs me to keep on living. My family needs me to keep on living,” she told Today.

The mother is doing her best to prepare for when she can’t be there for her boys. She penned an extremely heartfelt letter to her sons, which was originally published in The New Daily. In the letter, she mentions that she knows their friends and family will constantly remind the boys of their mother, telling them stories and more, but there are some things she’d like to tell them in her own words.

Tess Follett/GoFundMe

“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,” the opening paragraph of the letter reads.

She goes on to remind them to be kind to their father, and to “love hard” because that’s one thing she feels she’s been able to do in her life, and it means a lot to her.


“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,” the letter reads.

Sara’s also hoping to use her family’s story to raise awareness about brain cancer because it’s something that can happen to anyone.

“I want to shine a light on a disease which isn’t picky in its victims, which targets healthy little children who haven’t started living, and I want to do everything I can to help find a cure.” she told Today.

She recommends donating to cancer research organizations such as Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer. Her sister has also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for their family as they pay for Sara and Alfie’s medical expenses.

Family & Parenting, Health
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About the Author
Augusta Statz
I have a B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I’m an avid writer with a genuine sense of curiosity. I feel the best way to absorb the world around you is through fashion, art and food, so that’s what I spend most of my time writing about.

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