Couple 'being so strong' for son Chace

By Abigail Hartevelt

Whakatane's Joy Topperwien marvels at how strong her son and daughter-in-law have been for their 3-year-old son, Chace, who is undergoing a drug trial in London.

"I certainly wouldn't be as strong as they are," said Mrs Topperwien of her son Ryan and daughter-in-law Keri who are today named The Daily Post People of the Month for March.

Mr and Mrs Topperwien have been chosen in recognition for the great lengths they have gone to to help their son, who has leukaemia.

"The road those two have travelled over the last 14 months has been incredible and I wholeheartedly believe they are deserving of this. This is an incredible honour. They are going to be absolutely stoked and very humbled by what The Daily Post is doing. I just wish what you were giving was the cure," Mrs Topperwien told The Daily Post.

Since March 2010, when Chace was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia just days before turning 2, the Whakatane youngster has been in and out of hospitals, undergoing a stem cell transplant in July last year after no bone marrow matches could be found for him.

The Whakatane toddler and his parents have been in London since March 21 and Chace has just undergone the first of four rounds of a $440,000 drug trial.

Chace's grandfather Rod Topperwien headed over to be with them late last week and Mrs Topperwien was talking to her family on Skype twice a day.

She said Chace had spent a night at their flat in the UK but was now back in hospital. He was okay but had an infection and doctors were trying to get his pain medication sorted.

Mrs Topperwien cried as she spoke of her only grandchild and the efforts her son and daughter-in-law were going to for him.

"They [Chace's parents] would have to be going through hell right now. They have told us time and time again they have to maintain positivity... Chace's condition can change every hour. He is such a tough little boy."

Mrs Topperwien said tests would be done in a few weeks to see if the bone marrow was improving and if it was then Chace would receive round two of the drug.

"If there is little improvement they won't continue with the next round. At the moment he is responding really well."

The Chace Topperwien Fundraising Facebook page has attracted 4193 followers. About $199,000 of the $440,000 needed for the drug trial has been raised so far.

"The community has been wonderful. They have really rallied and got behind us."

Rugby star Sonny Bill Williams was also going to be involved in fundraising for Chace.

Donations can be made at any ASB branch to the Chace Topperwien Fundraising account: 12 3217 0163111 00. For updates, visit the Facebook page or

- Rotorua Daily Post

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