Steve Jobs regretted delaying his cancer treatment for 9 months back in 2004

Thu, Oct 20, 2011


Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson will appear on 60 Minutes this Sunday to talk about all things Jobs and help promote his forthcoming book about the Apple co-founder.

CBS has now provided a small preview of the upcoming interview with the most revealing tidbit being that Jobs, in hindsight, expressed regret for waiting 9 months before opting to undergo surgery to treat his cancer when it was first discovered in 2004.

The story goes that after performing a biopsy on Jobs, Doctors discovered that Jobs’ cancer was slow growing and of the 5% of pancreatic cancers that could be cured. Alas, Jobs opted not to get operated on right away and instead attempted to treat his ailment with his diet, by going to a spiritualist and other methods.

I’ve asked [Jobs why he didn’t get an operation then] and he said, ‘I didn’t want my body to be opened…I didn’t want to be violated in that way,'” Isaacson recalls. So he waited nine months, while his wife and others urged him to do it, before getting the operation, reveals Isaacson. Asked by [60 Minutes correspondent Steve] Kroft how such an intelligent man could make such a seemingly stupid decision, Isaacson replies, “I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don’t want something to exist, you can have magical thinking…we talked about this a lot,” he tells Kroft. “He wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it….I think he felt he should have been operated on sooner.”

After so many months, Isaacson recalls, Jobs’ friends and family were adamant that he stop trying to treat his Cancer with roots and vegetables. So 9 months later Jobs went in for an operation, but by that time, it had spread to the tissues around the pancreas.

Earlier this week, Harvard Cancer Doctor Ramzi Anri articulated the same sentiment in a lengthy Quora post. Anri explained that Jobs’ cancer was mild and discovered early enough that prompt treatment would have given Jobs an excellent chance of beating it once and for all.

Anri writes in part:

This illustrates also why leaving even the most innocent malign tumor to grow is just a foolish thing to do — a ticking time bomb.

Jobs was a hippie back in the day, and a conventional medicine skeptic now. His reaction to the disease gave the disease time to spread.

While Mr. Jobs was trying all sorts of alternative mumbo-jumbo I won’t even bother to go through as their failure is now sadly irrefutably proven, his tumor grew, and grew, and grew…



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