Sutherland family living 'day by day'

02:26, Jul 31 2013
Lachie Sutherland adorned with his beads
BEADS OF COURAGE: Each bead represents one of Lachie's treatments.
Lachie and Chris Sutherland
AT PEACE: Lachie finding comfort in his dad's arms.
Lachie and Chris Sutherland in the park
SUNNY DAYS: Lachie and Chris Sutherland relax in the park.
Lachie and Chris Sutherland at the rugby
DAD TIME: Lachie and Chris Sutherland at the rugby
Kelly Sutherland
KELLY SUTHERLAND: Taking life ‘‘one day at a time’’.

All Black Zac Guildford developed a bond with young cancer sufferer Lachie Sutherland while the 5-year-old had hospital treatment, but he is now fundraising to help the boy's father.

Guildford is helping to raise funds for Lachie's father, Chris, who was diagnosed with terminal melanoma only six days before his son finished his punishing cancer treatment.

The 24-year-old Crusaders wing has organised a fundraising movie night for the Christchurch family to see The Lone Ranger at Reading Cinemas at The Palms Shopping Centre on August 15.

Guilford struck up a friendship with the family after meeting Lachie at a hospital visit last year, and they defended him when he made headlines for an alcohol-related incident at a Christchurch house party in January.

Guildford told The Press last week that he was "really sad" when he learnt of Chris Sutherland's diagnosis.

"He's a fantastic guy. It's very sad that this family have been struck by cancer, not once but twice," he said.

Lachie was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma - an aggressive form of childhood extracranial cancer - in January last year and spent more than 200 nights in hospitals in Christchurch and Sydney over the following 18 months, enduring about 15 rounds of chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy, major abdominal surgery and stem-cell replacement.

Six days before his treatment programme finished, doctors confirmed a melanoma found on his father's back three months earlier had spread through his body, and on Monday he was admitted to Merivale's Nurse Maude Hospice.

"When your child's diagnosed with cancer, you kind of assume that things can't get any worse than that," Kelly Sutherland said.

"With Lachie, I never thought 'why me?' But the second time around, I'm not feeling so charitable."

It was hoped her husband could be made stable enough to spend his last days at home with his family, she said.

"You do become quite contemplative of your life and what's had meaning to you,'' she said.

''The bucket list doesn't matter. I've always wanted to travel through Africa, but it doesn't matter any more ... It's companionship and having your mate there with you.

Sutherlands movie fundraiser
FUNDRAISER: Crusader Zac Guildford is supporting a film night to raise money for the Sutherlands.

"Now we live day by day and try to enjoy being a family."

Sutherland said her husband was an "amazing father", but now it was Lachie offering the support.

"He has an amazing empathy, as I think all the children who have gone through illness have developed,'' she said.

''He'll go and turn on Dad's oxygen machine and tell him what pain medication he should be on."

Family friends Dean and Kim Harrison have also organised a fundraising movie night to see The Internship at Hoyts Riccarton on August 22 to help send Kelly and Lachie to Disneyland.

The response to their efforts from businesses and individuals had been "overwhelming", Dean Harrison said.

"It just puts life in perspective. When you're having a bad day at work ... it could be a s... lot worse. These guys are such an inspirational family."

The Harrisons said their son, Liam, was best friends with Lachie and both were in the same class at St Martins Primary School.


Kelly Sutherland
KELLY SUTHERLAND: Taking life ‘‘one day at a time’’.

To buy $30 tickets to this movie, email

They are also looking for donations to a fundraising account for the family at Kiwibank 38-9008-0670464-03.

■ Donations for the Sutherland family can also be made online though givealittle.

The Press