Waikato DHB cyber attack made a bad cancer situation worse for Lynne Kenny


Lynne Kenny was about to have surgery for bowel cancer when she got sick with bronchitis, and then cyber attackers struck Waikato DHB.

Tom Lee/Stuff

Lynne Kenny was about to have surgery for bowel cancer when she got sick with bronchitis, and then cyber attackers struck Waikato DHB.

Lynne Kenny was about to have cancer surgery when she got sick with bronchitis, and then a cyber attack struck Waikato DHB.

It had taken eight rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the 58-year-old Hamilton mother’s tumours enough to make the operation possible.

But it was delayed first by her sickness and then the May 18 cyber attack that took Waikato DHB back to operating on pen and paper – and her cancer is now deemed inoperable.

Waikato DHB says all patients got treatment “within the clinically indicated time frames” during the cyber attack, in which hackers brought down hundreds of servers. Some cancer patients were transferred and elective surgeries postponed, and patient and staff information was dumped on the dark web.

READ MORE:
* Waikato DHB warned a cyber attack ‘catastrophic for patient safety’
* Waikato DHB cyber attack: Old software susceptible to malware was being used by some staff
* Waikato DHB to tell 4200 people their personal information was disclosed on the dark web, following May cyber attack

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Ministry of Health Deputy Director-General data and digital Shayne Hunter talks at press conference.

For Kenny, after the combination of delays, a CT scan showed her tumours had grown again and were inoperable. Her oncologist told her she needs unfunded treatment “in haste”.

She has a 5-year-old foster son, adult children and a new granddaughter, and her best hope for staying around for them is unfunded drug cetuximab, which costs $43,000 for 10 treatments.

“I don’t own my home and I have been at home with my little boy for the last four years because he’s had lots of medical needs because he was born at 24 weeks. So I have been unable to work,” she said.

A Give a little page has been started to help Kenny fundraise – she’s known in the community after 22 years as an early childhood teacher, as a foster carer of 25 years, and through collecting clothing and furniture for those in need.

Jai, 5, is part of Kenny’s reason to stay around as long as she can. She’s been caring for him since he was born – and she also has four adult children and new granddaughter.

SUPPLIED

Jai, 5, is part of Kenny’s reason to stay around as long as she can. She’s been caring for him since he was born – and she also has four adult children and new granddaughter.

“If I don’t do the unfunded drug the tumour that is growing may keep growing, and it’s not a good outlook for me at all,” Kenny said.

“The bronchitis was the cause of having to wait for surgery, but also putting the chemo on hold … and the cyberattack made the period longer as well.”

She wants “to be here as long as I possibly can” for 5-year-old Jai, who spent five months in NICU before going into her care, as well as for a new grandchild in the South Island whom she is yet to meet, and her four adult children.

Kenny was diagnosed with bowel cancer late 2020, after ending up in the emergency department with pain in her side.

After scans, doctors said it was probably referred pain from her back, but more tests and scans followed once she got discharge papers which said there might be something on her liver.

Lynne Kenny's tumours have grown again during her illness and the DHB cyber attack. Her oncologist says they're inoperable and she needs an unfunded treatment.

Tom Lee/Stuff

Lynne Kenny’s tumours have grown again during her illness and the DHB cyber attack. Her oncologist says they’re inoperable and she needs an unfunded treatment.

Then Kenny got a call telling her to bring a support person to see the doctor.

“I thought, obviously that’s not a good thing.”

Bowel cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, and she had tumours on her liver.

During a three-month wait to see an oncologist, the tumours continued to grow.

“[The oncologist] said I need to start chemo straight away, and he said the aim was to shrink the tumours and hopefully might get to a place where I was operable.”

That’s where Kenny was at when she fell ill with bronchitis and the cyber attack struck.

All patients known to the Waikato DHB cancer service continued their treatment within the clinically indicated time frames, a Waikato DHB spokesperson said.

“Inpatient and outpatient services continued to be delivered within the DHB where possible, such as for radiation oncology and medical oncology clinics, and chemotherapy which continued as normal.”

If the DHB couldn’t deliver services itself, it worked with other DHBs or health providers – “as in the case of radiation therapy patients, who were transferred to hospitals throughout New Zealand, accompanied by Waikato DHB specialist staff to ensure continuity of their care”.

There is no current backlog from the IT outage within the DHB’s medical oncology clinics, radiation oncology, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or haematology services, a statement said.



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