A young Melbourne family is going through the unthinkable. They've been devastated by brain tumours with mum 34-year-old mum, Sara Chivers and her 10-month-old son, Alfie, both receiving terminal diagnoses. It’s a situation that doctors say is as rare as lightening striking twice.
After beating brain cancer eight years ago, the mum-of-two was told in March her brain tumour had returned and it is terminal. Doctors discovered three tumours had grown on the brain and they were inoperable and incurable.
Speaking to the ABC’s 7:30, Sara said upon hearing her diagnosis, she felt devastation, grief, but also determination to make the most of the time she had with her young family.
However, in possibly one of the cruellest twists of fate, just four weeks ago, it was discovered Sara’s youngest son, 18-month-old Alfie, had a tumour on his brain the size of a pear. Alfie’s cancer is different to his mum’s; yet, it’s malignant, aggressive and terminal.
Alfie’s diagnosis has left Sara and her partner Leigh absolutely shattered.
“It's just horrible, absolutely horrible. And heartbreaking,” Sara said.
Leigh recalled the moment he learned Alfie’s diagnosis and phone his wife.
"I just said that they found a mass on Alfie's brain," he said.
"I just heard screaming."
The ABC reports Alfie's tumour is what is known as an atypical teratoid rhabdoid and according to his neurosurgeon, Chris Xenos, it occurs only one in 3 million.
Alfie has had three operations to remove as much of the tumour as possible and to reduce the fluid in his brain.
Since the return of Sara’s tumour, she has been receiving treatment to buy her as much time as possible, so she can help Alfie fight his cancer. She says she won’t let him become a statistic.
Tragically, brain cancer kills more children than any other.
The ABC explains, the Federal Government will match $50 million in funding from the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and Twiggy Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation to fund brain cancer research.
However, the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation still needs to raise $20 million of that money through fundraising, so Sara desperately wants to draw attention to the need for research in the hopes that it will help families in the future and maybe her own.
If you wish to donate to help find a cure for brain cancer, Sara has set up a donation page here.