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

Tom Lee/Stuff

Lynne Kenny was about to undergo surgery for colon cancer when she fell ill with bronchitis, and then cyber-attackers struck Waikato DHB.

Lynne Kenny was about to undergo cancer surgery when she fell ill with bronchitis, then a cyberattack hit Waikato DHB.

It had taken eight rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the 58-year-old Hamilton mother’s tumors enough to allow the surgery.

But it was delayed first by her illness and then the May 18 cyberattack that allowed Waikato DHB to resume surgery on pen and paper — and her cancer is now considered inoperable.

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

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Department 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 that her tumors had grown back and were inoperable. Her oncologist told her she needs unfunded treatment “urgently”.

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

“I do not own my house and I have been home with my little boy for the past four years because he had many medical needs as he was born at 24 weeks. So I haven’t been able to work,” she said.

A fundraising page has been set up to help Kenny raise money. She is known in the community after 22 years as an early childhood teacher, as a foster carer for 25 years and for collecting clothes and furniture for those in need.


Jai, 5, is part of Kenny’s reason for staying around as long as possible. She’s been taking care of him since he was born – and she also has four grown children and a new granddaughter.

“If I don’t take the unfunded drug, the tumor that is growing can continue to grow, and it’s not a good prospect for me at all,” Kenny said.

“The bronchitis was the cause of the wait for surgery, but also the postponement of the chemo … and the cyber attack also made the period longer.”

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

Kenny was diagnosed with colon cancer at the end of 2020 after ending up in the emergency room with pain in her side.

After scans, the doctors said it was likely referred pain from her back, but more tests and scans followed when she was given discharge papers saying there may be something wrong with her liver.

Tom Lee/Stuff

Lynne Kenny’s tumors have grown again during her illness and the DHB cyberattack. Her oncologist says they are useless and she needs unfunded treatment.

Then Kenny got a call telling her to bring an attendant to see the doctor.

“I thought, of course that’s not good.”

Colon cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and she had tumors on her liver.

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

“[The oncologist] told me to start chemo right away, and he said the goal was to shrink the tumors and hopefully get to a place where I would be operable.”

That’s where Kenny was when she got sick with bronchitis and the cyber attack hit.

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 were provided within the DHB where possible, such as for radiotherapy oncology and medical oncology clinics, and chemotherapy as normal.”

If the DHB was unable to provide services on its own, it partnered with other DHBs or healthcare providers – “as in the case of radiotherapy patients, who were transferred to hospitals across New Zealand, accompanied by Waikato DHB specialists to ensure continuity of care.” guarantee “.

There is currently no backlog due to the IT failure within the DHB’s medical oncology clinics, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or haematology services, a statement said.

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