Earlier this year, Sara Chivers learned that the brain cancer she has long suffered is now terminal, so the mom of two wrote a moving goodbye letter to the boys she’s going to leave behind.
“I won’t be around to see you grow up,” Chivers, 34, writes to 3-year-old Hugh and 18-month-old Alfie in the letter originally published on The New Daily in Australia. “It’s a hard thing to say and even harder to face.”
Chivers, of Melbourne, Australia, beat brain cancer back in 2008, but the illness returned in March with Chivers suffering three tumors, Daily reports. She was undergoing treatment on one of the tumors when she and her husband, Leigh, learned that Alfie has brain cancer, though doctors don’t believe there is a genetic connection between their two diagnoses.
“We were in a state of disbelief,” Chivers tells PEOPLE of the moments she and Leigh learned about their son’s condition. “It wasn’t even on the scale of our worst fears; it was an inconceivable situation.”
In her letter, Chivers encourages her children to be brave, “love hard” and “be kind to your dad.”
“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,” she writes.
“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,” she continues. “You are without a doubt my proudest accomplishments.”
Chivers was just 25 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer, ABC News reports. She told ABC that she has long known the illness would take her life. “The question isn’t whether I will die from the disease, it’s when,” she said.
She went on to marry Leigh and start a family since her original diagnosis. And Chivers said her fight now is for Alfie’s sake.
“Alfie’s diagnosis has given me a new purpose,” she told ABC. “Instead of sitting idle, I’ll be using all of my might and willpower to give Alfie a voice. He needs me to champion his cause, to give hope where there is hopelessness.”
She added: “He needs me to be strong. He needs me to keep on living. He will be my legacy.”
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Chivers tells PEOPLE that the response to her letter has been “overwhelming and humbling,” noting that she shared it to raise awareness about the “devastating impacts this brutal disease can have on families.”
“The most heartbreaking thing about my terminal diagnosis is that I won’t get to see my sons grow up, and mother them like I always dreamed,” she says. “My letter is a way to honor my impact in their lives and leave behind a legacy for them.”
A GoFundMe page has been created to benefit the family.