News in 5: Cancer mum Sara Chivers dies; QLD parents' 'mystery death'; School lunch warning.

1. “She looked like she did on our wedding day”: Mum whose baby is also battling brain cancer has passed away.

sara chivers alfie brain cancer
Sara Chivers and her young son, Alfie. Image via Instagram.

In March last year, 34-year-old Melbourne mother-of-two Sara Chivers received news she never expected to hear: after eight years, her brain cancer had returned. And this time, it was inoperable and incurable.

Already faced with the knowledge her two sons would grow up without her, just a few months later, Sara and her husband Leigh were dealt another devastating blow: their 18-month-old son, Alfie, also had brain cancer.

While a completely different type of cancer to his mum’s, Alfie's is also aggressive, malignant and terminal. It's something the family's neurosurgeon describes as "lightning striking the same place twice".


Almost three months after sharing her story with Australia, and penning a heartbreaking letter to her two sons - Alfie, and her eldest son, three-year-old Hugo - Sara's family has revealed she passed away peacefully on January 28.

"My beautiful sister, Sara Chivers, passed away peacefully in her sleep with family surrounding her on Sunday 28th January," a message on the GoFundMe page set up to support the family read.

"Thanks to you all for the ongoing support."

Speaking to The New Daily, Sara's husband Leigh said his wife looked " like she did on our wedding day" after her passing.

"All her features really came out. She looked so young," he said.

Sara's mother, Helen Clark, said it was a "privilege" to be with her daughter in her final moments.

"It was actually really, really beautiful," she said.

"Hard to believe, but it was."

Just weeks before her death, Sara spoke to Vogue Australia's February issue about her devastating diagnosis and her battle to keep her memory alive for her sons.

"It's surreal to know I won't see old age. And that I will leave Leigh a single dad," she wrote.

"I have so much grief for a life I won't be living."

But she described the "cruellest twist" - Alfie's diagnosis - as a reason for her to keep living


"I need all my might and willpower to give Alfie a voice. He needs me to champion his cause," she wrote.

"He needs me to be strong. He will be my legacy. He needs me to keep on living."

Friends and strangers alike have shared their condolences with the family, praising Sara for her relentless pursuit of spreading awareness of childhood brain cancer in her final few months.

"A truly remarkable brave amazing mother and human," one woman wrote, while another added: "What a beautiful, brave, courageous woman."

Sara's family encourages donations to the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation. Her sister, Stephanie, has also set up a GoFundMe to help the family with their ongoing expenses.

2. Three young girls have been left orphaned after the 'mystery' deaths of their parents in Queensland.

parents found dead in Queensland home AAP
Image via AAP.

Mystery surrounds the discovery of two bodies in a Queensland home, with police still yet to say if they are treating the deaths as a murder-suicide or a double-murder.

Three young girls were left orphaned after their parents - aged 27 and 30 - were found dead inside a home in the Logan suburb of Eagleby, south of Brisbane, on Monday.

A crime scene was established and fingerprints taken after the arrival of authorities, yet police held back from disclosing the nature of their investigation into circumstances surrounding the deaths.

A neighbour told AAP the couple were "polite" and "kept to themselves", with the youngest of their daughters "in nappies". The Courier Mail reports the three girls were aged 15 months, four and five years old.

"They had little kids they would let play outside with other kids from this street," the neighbour said.

It is believed the parents voluntarily handed over their kids for 30 days to "get their heads clear", according to a neighbour.

A Queensland Police spokeswoman said the coroner would investigate the deaths.

If you or someone you know needs help you can call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyondblue 1300 224 636.


3. Experts are warning parents about the dangers of packing "high risk" foods in their child's school lunch box.

school lunch box packed lunch healthy lunch
Image via Getty.

Parents are being warned about the dangers of packing ‘high risk’ foods in their children’s lunch boxes that could lead to the spread of dangerous bacteria.

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, the nation’s high summer temperatures make the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, especially in "high risk foods" such as meat, poultry, soft cheese and eggs.

Research from the Food Safety Information Council found that one quarter of parents don't pack an ice brick or frozen water bottle in their child's lunch box. Foods left outside in 25 degree temperatures were found to have five times the bacteria levels of those kept with a frozen drink in a cool environment.


"I've always had a concern about the old school lunch box left in the school bag sitting outside the classroom just getting hot and then the child being hungry and eating it," Australian Medical Asso­ciation NSW President Brad Frankum told The Daily Telegraph.

"Australians need to be mindful of the foods that are the most risky... basically any animal product really."

Children can experience diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramps within just an hour of eating contaminated food.

"It's about being sensible and not having those lunch boxes in the heat," nutritionist Fiona Tuck said.

"The longer it sits out in the sun, the higher the risk of bacteria."

Food Safety Information Council spokeswoman Lydia Buchtmann suggests parents swap out 'high risk' foods like meat, poultry and eggs for sandwich spreads or a can of tuna to minimise the spread of bacteria, and to always include a frozen drink or ice block to keep everything fresh.

4. Scientists have determined that pregnancy changes a woman 'on a molecular level'.

pregnant woman
Image via Getty.

It's long been said that motherhood changes a woman and Australian scientists now have the proof.

According to AAP, a breakthrough study has found pregnancy changes women at a molecular level, affecting one of the systems their bodies use to turn genes on and off.

It also found those changes are still evident months after birth, suggesting possible long-term health implications for mums.

Deakin University researchers focused on a field of study known as epigenetics - a kind of master control system the body has to tell genes what to do.

They studied the epigenetic fingerprints of a group of women before, during and after pregnancy, and found marked differences.


"Epigenetics is a fundamental way we control the activities or our genes - and that determines health or disease," says lead researcher Professor Leigh Ackland.

"We found that women come out of pregnancy with different genetic behaviour than they had going in. It appears hormones are remodelling the women's genes in a sense."

Crucially, those changes were still present up to five months after women gave birth.

The next step will be to track those women for years into the future, to determine if the changes are permanent.

Researchers will also look at individual genes to determine how gene function has been affected.

"Long-term epigenetic changes have previously been associated with the development of diseases and chronic vascular dysfunction - problems with arteries, veins and circulation," Prof Ackland says.

The study, which also involved researchers from the University of Melbourne and Monash University, will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Epigenomics.

5. Here's something to ruin your summer: millions of maggots have washed up on a Sydney beach.

bilgola beach
Sydney's Bilgola beach has become infested with maggots. Image via AAP.

Sydney beachgoers have been shocked and disgusted after finding millions of maggots washed up on two of the city's most popular beaches.

According to The Manly Daily, the creatures were first noticed on the northern beaches over the weekend, when a local resident shared an image on Facebook with the caption, "zillions of maggots washed up on the tide at Newport Beach".

The infestation has since caused the Northern Beaches Council to close Bilgola rock pool as they wait for the larvae to develop into flies and the beaches to be usable once again.

"It was disgusting — this moving carpet of white maggots," Bilgola resident Colin Weir told The Manly Daily.

"I've been going to this beach every year for 15 years and have never seen anything like this. It has been quite the talk of the beaches this morning. There were millions of them."

Ben Taylor, the council's manager of environment and infrastructure, said flies are believed to have laid their eggs on seaweed that has since washed up on the shoreline of the beaches.


"Natural beach conditions along with warm weather have contributed to an infestation in the seaweed caused by flies laying larvae," he said.

"Mostly affecting the southern end of (Bilgola) beach, the seaweed has also washed into the rock pool.

"This is an unfortunate but natural occurrence and we have cleaning crews monitoring and managing the situation.

"We encourage people not to swim in the areas affected and abide by any pool closures. Council will continue to keep an eye on the rock pools and reopen Bilgola as soon as possible."

6. Sad news: Sydney's newest ferry won't be named Ferry McFerryface after all thanks to a voting scandal.

Ferry McFerryface
Ferry McFerryface is no more. Image via 9 News.

The name Ferry McFerryface, given to one of Sydney's newest ferries, has sparked controversy since it was first introduced and will now be replaced with the name of treasured children's author May Gibbs.

Ferry McFerryface was reported as the most popular name nominated by Sydneysiders in a competition last year, but freedom of information documents reveal the name attracted just 182 votes and was ineligible under the NSW government's criteria, according to the 9 News.

The documents revealed the criteria for the ferry naming competition, drawn up by Transport for NSW, suggested "mitigating the risk of satirical naming campaigns" and avoiding "the highly publicised mishaps in the naming of ships in other jurisdictions".

Transport Minister Andrew Constance signed off on the plan and later went ahead with naming the vessel Ferry McFerryface, 9 News says.

The documents reveal environmental campaigner Ian Kiernan received the most votes in the competition which cost $100,000.

Hours after the documents were released on Tuesday, Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced the vessel, which he says was branded as Ferry McFerryface for the summer only, will be renamed.

"We always intended this vessel would be named for the kids," Mr Constance said in a statement.


"After a summer on the harbour, Ferry McFerryface will now be renamed after prominent Australian author May Gibbs. This will retain the vessel's appeal to our youngest customers while also recognising an Australian icon with a long connection to Sydney."

NSW opposition spokeswoman Jodi McKay slammed Mr Constance saying he had been caught out "rigging the ballot".

"We know Andrew Constance can't run a train network but now it's clear he can't even run a competition to name a ferry," she said in a statement.

"He flat out lied about the competition repeatedly saying Ferry McFerryface was the popular choice when he knew it was anything but."

Earlier, Mr Constance denied the claims, saying the reports were "incorrect".

He said Ferry McFerryface came from the first open call for public nominations where people could vote for any name without stringent criteria.

"In this round, Ferry McFerryface received 229 nominations and Ian Kiernan received 17," Mr Constance told AAP in a statement.

The second round of public voting included set criteria and did not include Ferry McFerryface as an option, he said.

The name Ferry McFerryface isn't original. It follows a public vote in the UK to name a new polar research ship Boaty McBoatface but the Natural Environment Research Council choose "Sir David Attenborough" instead.