Speaking to eight year old Lachie Sutherland, you have no idea of the turbulent times in his recent past. Diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma - an aggressive form of childhood cancer, and hospitalised for more than 200 nights over 18 months when he was only four years old, today Lachie’s recount of that time is overwhelmingly positive.
That’s testament to the love and care provided by the children’s oncology team, and his devoted parents. The little things – the characters from the Cars movie, sourced by Lachie’s dad Chris from all over the country. The All Blacks teddy, nicknamed Richie, which popped its head around the corner of the hospital room one bleak day. The hundreds of coloured Beads of Courage, each in recognition of yet another procedure.
Then there’s the difficult times too. The surgeries, the chemo, the radiation, the stem cell transplant. The pokes and prods. But Lachie’s enduring memory is the intense boredom.
Always an energetic child, Lachie is passionate about football. “First, I’d like to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid. Then one of the best clubs will buy me for more money,” he says. Dealing with Lachie itching to be active and entertained, with limited facilities, was one of the biggest challenges faced by the family.
Lachie’s mum Kelly says the Māia Health Foundation enhancements for children in Christchurch Hospital will have an enormous impact on families going through treatment. And Lachie agrees.