IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

James Arnold from Dell New Zealand shares his cancer story

By Contributor
Wed 27 Oct 2021

Story reposted with permission from The Medicine Gap and James Arnold. Techday's editors have modified the headline for clarity.

As of Tuesday 26th October, Dell Technologies' Medium Business ANZ director and general manager, James Arnold, is in a hospital prepping for a stem cell transplant. In the process, he will lose his immunity and be incapable of fighting off any bacteria or virus. He’ll be kept in isolation in a pressure room to make sure air can leave the room, but germs can’t filter in. 

Delta adds another layer of complexity to an already invasive procedure.

“It’s up to the doctors to keep me alive. Sadly, we’re living in a world with a virulent bug going around that’s trying to hurt us. It throws a bit of a spanner in the works.”

James isn’t sure how long he’ll be in hospital, but he’s been told it could be up to a month.

“How do I feel? Honestly? I’m terrified. Absolutely terrified,” he says.

James is 51 years old, married to Carlene with two teenage daughters. He’s a successful, well paid, highly regarded IT consultant and by his own admission he “lives well” on Auckland’s North Shore. He keeps fit playing squash and, when his health allows, he can usually squeeze in a few games a week.

“I love it, it’s a great game.”

In March, James felt a bit tired but otherwise life was going well. Really well. The following month, a phone call from a doctor turned his life on its head.

“It’s not until you get a diagnosis like this that you realise cancer isn’t a singular disease. It affects everyone around you. It’s been incredibly tough on my wife and when we told our two daughters…. well, that was a very tough day. Very tough.”

James says, in hindsight, he can now recognise the symptoms.

“I was struggling to keep up when I played squash. I thought it was probably because I was getting on a bit, so I put it down to age.”

James assumed the swollen lymph nodes under his jaw were the start of a newly acquired double chin, but it was a numb sensation in his bottom lip that ultimately led to a GP’s appointment, and a diagnosis.

“My bottom lip would go numb if I sat on the couch and leaned back. It was the weirdest thing. And if I went to sleep on my back, I would wake up with the same sensation.”

He began to get strong cramps in the upper part of his abdomen and, after a stint on Google, he thought he might have gallstones. His GP agreed and sent him for an ultrasound.

“That was when we started to find out what was going on.”

The sonographer couldn’t get a clear view of James’s gallbladder and sought a second opinion. Then a third specialist was called into the room.

“I knew at that stage the news probably wasn’t going to be good.”

They found a lump in James’s abdomen, later identified as a 13 x 8 x 11 cm mass of swollen lymph nodes. It was pressing on either nerves or his blood supply, causing the numbness in James’s face. His spleen was double its normal size, and tests showed that 80% of his bone marrow was cancerous.

James Arnold was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer that develops in the lymph nodes.

“I’m young to have this cancer and I guess I’m lucky because it’s the indolent form which means it grows and spreads slowly. It can switch to aggressive, but for the moment, it’s the slow version.”

Since his diagnosis in April, James has undergone surgery, and six long and taxing cycles of chemotherapy. Each session is around three to four weeks apart. Ultimately, it’s hoped the chemotherapy will destroy the cancer cells and this week, after months of treatment, a CT scan showed no evidence of disease.

James is optimistic but also realistic. There is no cure for Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It will come back.

“That’s why we do the stem cell transplant. It will get any cancer we’ve missed in the bone marrow, and hopefully put me into remission for somewhere between 2 and 10 years.”

Six weeks ago, in readiness for the transplant, James was hooked up to a machine for hours on end, and his blood was siphoned to remove his stem cells.

“It was a hard day. I came home that night and I cried. It broke me.”

This week will be a lot tougher.

James will start ‘consolidation therapy’ which means he will undergo six intensive sessions of chemotherapy, positioned 12 hours apart. He’ll suck on ice to ease the onset of an ulcerated mouth, and it will hopefully quell any nausea and gastro-intestinal upheaval.

“By the fourth day I’ll be feeling pretty average. The poison will be all through my system, but it should destroy any last cells of cancer.”

The following week, James’s stem cells will be defrosted and infused back into his body, eventually restoring his immune system and his body’s ability to produce blood cells and fight infection.

It is the standard treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma and is performed all over the world. Usually, when the cancer returns in the years ahead, patients are treated with what’s called a ‘second line’ treatment.

“…and this is sadly where the story takes a turn for the worse in New Zealand.”

New Zealand doesn’t fund a second line treatment.

For more than half a decade, a drug called a ‘BTK Inhibitor’ has been used to target and kill relapsed Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It targets cancer cells and inhibits their growth. In James’s case, it’s likely he would be treated with Ibrutinib which has proven highly effective at putting the cancer back into remission.

It’s a drug that is publicly funded all over the developed world, but it’s not funded in New Zealand.

The list price for Ibrutinib is almost $15k per month although Pharmac, New Zealand’s monopolistic drug-buying agency, is a good negotiator. It seldom, if ever, pays the list price for a drug.

In 2015, a funding application for Ibrutinib was lodged and approved for use by Medsafe, and was recommended for funding by Pharmac’s expert team of oncologists.

Six years on, Ibrutinib remains on Pharmac’s list of unfunded medicines. Tragically, New Zealand now sits at the bottom of the developed world for access to modern medicines, and has the lowest per capita pharmaceutical spend of the OECD.

Pharmac has been chronically underfunded by successive governments for more than a decade, and New Zealanders are now paying with their lives.

For Carlene, it has been the most brutal of realisations. She is concentrating on supporting James throughout his treatment but is fearful of the implications of a relapse.

“This is very raw to me. To put a price on a life in this way, it’s so distressing.”

“I struggle to describe the emotions I feel. On every single level this is wrong. When you see where the Government is putting money and yet they don’t fund modern medicines to treat New Zealanders, to help people…..how did we get here?”

Carlene says if she has to pack up her family and move to Brisbane, she will, but it will come at a huge emotional cost.

“If James relapses and we leave New Zealand, we lose a lot. Our friends, our family, our support. It’s immense. It’s overwhelming to think about packing up our lives when the cancer comes back.”

James, despite his diagnosis, describes himself as “lucky” because he has Australian citizenship. Across the Tasman, the second line treatments for this disease are fully funded, but he says moving to Australia would be the last resort. 

“I live here. I’ve raised my family here, I love it. I’ve paid a considerable amount of tax in this country, and I contribute to the economy. I don’t want to relocate to Australia. This is my home.”

It’s believed up to 90 New Zealanders suffer from Mantle Cell Lymphoma and while James is grateful that Australia provides him with a lifeline, he believes every New Zealander should be able to access modern treatments.

“You only find out how far behind we are when you’re staring down the barrel of a gun. Modern medicines are a part of everyday society. You have to look after your citizens.”

Show your support.

Please share James Arnold's story.

New Zealand needs access now to modern medicines to treat Mantle Cell Lymphoma.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom welcomes new marketing codes for the telecom industry
The Commerce Commission is welcoming the creation of new marketing codes for the telecommunications industry.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS unveils AI experience to improve kids' batting abilities
SAS has created The Batting Lab, an interactive experience using AI, computer vision and IoT analytics to help kids improve their baseball and softball swings.
Story image
Safety
Voxel hits total funding of $18M following ongoing wins
Since raising its seed round in September, Voxel has grown at pace, by decreasing on-site injuries by upwards of 80% and increasing operational productivity.
Story image
Public Cloud
Cloud adoption still a work in progress, NetApp finds
NetApp has announced the results of the annual Cloud Infrastructure Report based on a survey of public cloud business and IT decision makers.
Story image
SaaS
Absolute Software expands Secure Access product offering
Absolute Software is enhancing its Secure Access product portfolio, enabling minimised risk exposure and optimised user experiences in the hybrid working environment.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Datacom, Micro Focus, SnapLogic and VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 6-12, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Talend
Talend introduces new data health solutions for businesses
Talend has announced its latest version of Talend Data Fabric, with the release of Talend Trust Score enabling data teams to establish a foundation for data health.
Story image
Veryfi
Veryfi announces Mobile Receipt Capture for D2C marketing apps
Veryfi has announced a new enhancement to its portfolio, with Mobile Receipt Capture for direct-to-consumer marketing apps.
Story image
Storage
Energy storage demand momentum continues, says BYD
BYD has announced an expansion of its production capacities and will deliver 250,000 units of its energy storage system, BYD Battery-Box Premium.
Darktrace
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
SaaS
Cloudflare launches instant serverless database for dev teams
"Today we’re announcing our first serverless database which we expect will quickly become one of the largest databases in the world."
Story image
Digital Transformation
Why enterprise records management should be part of any digital transformation strategy
Modern organisations create and rely upon an enormous volume of content, and digital records make up a significant proportion of that content.
Story image
Mobility
Hands-on review: STM laptop bags
The advent of hybrid working has meant we need laptop bags. We got our hands on two of the most popular laptop bags from STM.
Story image
Fortinet
Fortinet's Security Fabric hits new record for integrations
The Fortinet Security Fabric has surpassed 500 technology integrations with more than 300 Fabric-Ready Technology Alliance Partners.
Story image
IT budget
$20m boost for digital technologies announced
The government is spending an extra $20m over four years on its plan to transform the digital technologies industry.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Remote Working
IT teams deploy powerful technologies to enable remote work
"We found that IT teams mastered the challenges of remote work last year in large part by employing powerful yet easy-to-use technologies."
Story image
Power / Energy
Keysight Technologies introduces new next-gen DPT solution
Keysight Technologies has announced its new next-generation Double-Pulse Tester (DPT) with the PD1550A Advanced Dynamic Power Device Analyser.
Story image
Phishing
Google reveals new safety and security measures for users
Google's new measures include automatic two step verification, virtual cards and making it easier to remove contact information on Google Search results.
Story image
Adyen
Adyen expands partnership with Afterpay as BNPL payments increase
Adyen has expanded its partnership with AfterPay allowing more of Adyen’s merchants in more countries worldwide to use the BNPL provider.
Story image
Kodari Securities (KOSEC)
NFT trends and opportunities: expert reveals all
The NFT market is growing at an exponential rate, with unprecedented liquidity. Here we explore how businesses can profit.
Story image
Sustainability
Siemens showcases new automated solutions for data centers
Siemens has implemented new automated solutions and AI in the Baltic region's largest data center, providing insight into the future of data center management.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Softiron
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
Digital Transformation
Unlocking the next digital frontier for educational institutions
Understanding where to invest in technology can be challenging for education institutions, especially after the COVID-19 disruptions.
Story image
Oracle
Prophecy International migrates VMware environment with Oracle Cloud Solution
The Adelaide-based global provider is using the solution to eliminate the need to re-write applications, therefore allowing the company to enhance its business operations.
Story image
Sustainability
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft backing Māori and Pacific wāhine in tech industry
A new initiative focused on getting Māori and Pacific wāhine into the tech industry and backed by Microsoft, NZTech and the government is calling for tech companies to get involved.
Story image
Excel
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Story image
Cybersecurity
CyberArk launches $30M investment fund to advance security
CyberArk has announced the launch of CyberArk Ventures, a $30 million global investment fund dedicated to advancing the next generation of security disruptors.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Wireless
SmartCIC, BICS partner to expand wireless service options
SmarCIC has partnered with BICS to increase choice for organisations using fixed wireless services, expanding existing carrier relationships for its CELLSMART division.
Story image
Sustainability
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
BeyondTrust
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
Remote Working
How organisations can meet employees' changing expectations
The global employment market has shifted dramatically in favour of employees, sparking the so-called great resignation, in which people are leaving unsatisfying roles in search of greener pastures.
Story image
Power / Energy
SmartCIC report reveals top five 5G carriers in the world
The Global Cellular Performance Survey also found that 5G networks are delivering high download speeds but lagging in upload speeds.
Story image
Ransomware
Ingram Micro Cloud adds Bitdefender solutions to marketplace
Ingram Micro Cloud has announced the expanded availability of Bitdefender solutions on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Updates from Google Workspace set to ease hybrid working troubles
Google Workspace has announced a variety of new features which will utilise Google AI capabilities to help make hybrid working situations more efficient and effective.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Hawaiki Cable
BW Digital completes acquisition of Hawaiki Submarine Cable
BW Digital has completed its full acquisition of Hawaiki Submarine Cable, with all applicable regulatory filings and approvals now received.
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image