Monday, January 29, 2018

Two gorgeous little boys have lost their mother

It is so unjust. Little boys need their mother

Five days before Sara Chivers died in a sunlit Melbourne hospice room on the morning of January 28, her family gathered at her bedside to toast her with pizza and a bottle of Grange.

“We thought she was going then,” says her mother, Helen Clark.

But Sara, 34, hung in until Sunday.

Her toughness was no surprise to those who loved her. If anyone could pull off a challenge, it was Sara, the Melbourne mother-of-two whose letter to her sons Hugh, now 3, and Alfie, 21 months, as she was facing her mortality last October made global news and did what she wanted it to do, raise money and awareness for brain cancer.

Waking on her daughter’s last day, Helen – sleeping at the hospice with the rest of the family, Sara’s father Adrian, brother Mike and sister Stephanie – kissed her forehead and said hello. Then Sara stopped breathing.

“It was a privilege to be there,” says Helen. “It was actually really, really beautiful. Hard to believe, but it was.”

Her engineer husband Leigh Chivers, 34, who had been at home with Hugh, arrived soon after to be with his wife.

“When she did pass, after an hour or two she looked like she did on our wedding day,” he says.

“All her features really came out. She looked so young.”

Diagnosed with three incurable brain tumours last March – she had previously fought the disease in 2008 – the marketing executive was still absorbing her death sentence when the next hammer blow fell.

In a rare and shocking coincidence, in September Alfie was also diagnosed with brain cancer.

Facing the unimaginable galvanised Sara. Wanting to leave her boys a tangible legacy, she publicised her reality in the hope it would open government purses and find a cure in time to help Alfie.

“He needs me to champion his cause,” she said. “He needs me to keep on living.”

Sara and Leigh turned to fundraising, and in December, Alfie was on his wheelchair-bound mum’s knee when she presented The Project’s Carrie Bickmore with a cheque for over $60,000 for her brain cancer charity, the money all raised in months.

Palliative care is no place for a young mother who had run half marathons and moved to London solo for work. Sara turned it into her private HQ; increasingly unable to talk, she welcomed friends with cakes and coffee, and wept with disbelief seeing her story in Vogue in a copy the magazine expressed to her as time ran out.

“Even in the last weeks when she was struggling to talk and couldn’t walk, she still managed to laugh,” says her friend Mia Greves.

“No, it was more of a roar! I’m grateful that cancer didn’t rob her of that. My mate Sara was still there.”

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