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Lachie Sutherland

Maia Health Foundation Young Cancer Survivor Lachie Sutherland Child Healthcare 1024x580

Lachie's story —

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.


“It would be so good to have spaces so you could get out of your room. More people might be able to visit then. People’s siblings and friends visit them in hospital but there’s nowhere to play with them. If I was in charge I’d put in an outside playground where you could climb on equipment and kick a ball around. And somewhere comfy to read, and do schoolwork.”

Kelly’s wish list is even simpler. 

“Families need to be able to have some normality in their lives. Somewhere to prepare a meal, do some washing. The ability to have just a bit of respite, even for just an hour, to go for a walk, make a phone call, even just have a shower. A bed to sleep in, rather than a pull-out couch.”

Kelly and Chris stood strong for Lachie over the duration of his treatment. But the difficult times weren’t over for them yet. Six days before Lachie’s treatment programme finished, doctors confirmed a melanoma on his father's back had spread through his body, and Chris tragically passed away only six weeks later.

For every procedure Lachie went through, at his side were his mum and dad, worried for their only child and exhausted from the energies and stresses of such a long stint in hospitals.

Your support of the Māia Health Foundation will help families like Kelly and Lachie. One of the first projects Maia will fund is for enhancements to the children’s facilities. Find out more.

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