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Biographer tells of Steve Jobs's regrets from delaying cancer treatment

post #1 of 72
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Walter Isaacson, the author of the forthcoming biography of Steve Jobs, will appear in an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, and in a brief preview he discusses how Jobs regretted his decision to delay cancer treatment in 2004.

Isaacson reveals in his interview with CBS that Jobs refused to allow surgeons to perform surgery that could have saved his life from pancreatic cancer. Instead, Jobs decided to try alternative therapies and put off the operation because he felt it was too invasive -- something that he later regretted.

Isaacson, speaking with Steve Kroft, talks about the more than 40 interviews he conducted with Jobs. The special, set to air on Sunday, will include recorded words from Jobs himself.

Jobs reportedly said he didn't want his body to be "violated in that way," so he instead waited nine months while his wife and others urged him to go through with the surgery.

"I think he kind of felt that if you ignore something, if you don't want it to exist, you can have magical thinking... we talked about this a lot," Isaacson said. "He wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it... I think he felt he should have been operated on sooner."

The author also revealed that Jobs met his biological father before knowing who he was, gives his thoughts about death and the afterlife, and how he vowed to never let his wealth change him. The special airs this Sunday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time.




Isaacson is a Pulitzer Prize nominee who has previously written biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. The book, entitled "Steve Jobs, will be available in a hardcover edition, as well as digitally through Amazon Kindle and Apple's iBooks.

Following the death of Jobs, publisher Simon & Schuster pushed up the debut of the book to next week, Oct. 24, ahead of its previously planned November publication. Jobs placed no restrictions on what Isaacson could write and waived the right to read it before it was published.



Details of the book have continued to trickle out ahead of its impending release. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Jobs agreed to do the biography so his children could know him better. The Apple co-founder admitted he "wasn't always there for them," but he "wanted them to know and understand" what he did.

Apple's main page of its website served as a tribute to Jobs for two weeks after his death. The tribute image was removed on Thursday, a day after the company held a celebration of its founder at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., campus.
post #2 of 72
Still, he survived almost 7 years after the diagnosis.
RIP
post #3 of 72
Such a smart man with so much going for him and still he thought in a stupid (and selfish) manner. One might argue that it is not selfish thinking but it is. One needs to think about how their life touches everyone else in their life when making a decision about how to go about treating a terminal illness.

Having said that, I know and understand his reasoning, and have felt the same way at one time, but never again. I was lucky.

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post #4 of 72
Regardless, he's no longer here so it is pointless to second guess. What is done is done.

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post #5 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Regardless, he's no longer here so it is pointless to second guess. What is done is done.

It's not about second guessing by other people. The article states that Jobs himself regretted putting off the surgery.
post #6 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

Such a smart man with so much going for him and still he thought in a stupid (and selfish) manner. One might argue that it is not selfish thinking but it is. One needs to think about how their life touches everyone else in their life when making a decision about how to go about treating a terminal illness.

Having said that, I know and understand his reasoning, and have felt the same way at one time, but never again. I was lucky.

Expecting someone to change his personal life for the desire of others, sounds selfish.
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post #7 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Walter Isaacson, the author of the forthcoming biography of Steve Jobs, will appear in an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, and in a brief preview he discusses how Jobs regretted his decision to delay cancer treatment in 2004.

In 2004, Steve was busy negotiating Pixar's film distribution deal with Michael Eisner. He sold the company to Disney shortly thereafter for $7,400,000,000.00.
post #8 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

Expecting someone to change his personal life for the desire of others, sounds selfish.

he didn't say to change, he merely pointed out that a person who is so influential should at least give some thoughts to people around him.

you may say giving some thoughts to others in and of itself is a change but if you really say that, I will just shut up.
post #9 of 72
What got him killed was more or less the same thing that made him great. It's the way of the world.
post #10 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

Expecting someone to change his personal life for the desire of others, sounds selfish.

When one believes in unproven medicine or treatment, or worse yet, ignores or postpones treatment, a selfish choice has been made.

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post #11 of 72
I believe the body to be one's temple, but come on. There are times to seek alternate, spiritual treatment I suppose, but if the word "Cancer" enters your life, and it's caught early, and it's "curable", hey... open that temple and start doing some remodeling.

For someone I've never met, the passing of Steve Jobs still has me feeling totally bummed-out. I know Steve is the kind of guy that marched by the beating of his own drums, but if he was good at surrounding himself with good people while running Apple, he should have considered the same when receiving advice from medical professionals.

Just the thought that Steve could have still been with us, blessing all of us with his continued wisdom and insights if he had gotten the proper treatment to begin with just has me shaking my head in sadness.

I hope SJ's biography really gets into his insights during his sickness. I still tend to think that we'll never really truly know what he was thinking during those years.
post #12 of 72
He is an adult, mentally competent, and was entitled to make the decision, however foolish it may have been. He must have had access to the best oncologists and surgeons for advice. Having said that, I am well aware of croc pot medicine quacks going around and peddling their ideas. Like herbal medicine, teas, and even chelation therapy for unstable angina patients, etc. Give the patient a false sense of security, while avoiding standard of care treatment. These quacks need to be controlled. It is worse when such treatments are imposed on minors... sometimes due to religious beliefs.
post #13 of 72
See, I would think when you're at the top, doing what you love, that if someone told you that you had cancer, ANY SANE PERSON would get the treatment their extensive cash can buy asap.

That's really a shame.
post #14 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

Expecting someone to change his personal life for the desire of others, sounds selfish.

Bull. Not when you have kids, loved ones, a corporation and millions of fans out there. It probably was his arrogant self serving self assurance - which was an instrumental part of his driving force and which made him great - that also prevented him from taking sensible advice and instead only listen to himself. Stupidly. Sadly. Not to pass judgement but to call his survival 'the desire of others' is ridiculous.
post #15 of 72
"Magical thinking" seems to correlate to "mind over matter" - to which different people give different weight as a governing factor in their lives. People adopt certain beliefs, and sometimes superstitions, as one way to gain more certainty in their minds over events and influences that otherwise seem beyond their control. When that causes us to disregard hard physical realities of the situation, we can end up paying a price that otherwise may have been avoided. Nothing in life is completely certain. It is hubris on our part when we try to fabricate our own certainty when we don't like the facts that have been presented to us.

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post #16 of 72
As mythical as his accomplishments were, Steve Jobs was human. Humans make mistakes. He regretted his mistake too. It's sad that this mistake might have cost him his life. But he might not have survived even if he had surgery right away. Pancreatic cancer is dangerous in all forms.

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post #17 of 72
Alternative medicines can be beneficial in some cases. But when Cancer is involved, bring on the surgery, drugs, and radiation.
post #18 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

When one believes in unproven medicine or treatment, or worse yet, ignores or postpones treatment, a selfish choice has made.

So far, no medical treatment has proven to cure Cancer.
post #19 of 72
Truly sad of course, but hopefully some good will come of this. If it can steer people away from quackery and back into scientifically verified medicine, then that will be a great thing.

Governments the world over need to do much, much more to clamp down on so called alternative medicine. It's at best a scam, but sadly often far, far worse.
post #20 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

So far, no medical treatment has proven to cure Cancer.

True, which makes me dang curious what happened to THIS.
post #21 of 72
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms there is, with a five year survival rate of less than 10%. Its likely therefore that no matter what Jobs did he would not live for decades. Going seven years is pretty good going if you ask me - that's 2 years longer than 90% of people who suffer from Cancer of the Pancreas.

Of course he regretted not doing all he could as early as possible, but that's only natural and probably wouldn't have made much difference to the outcome.
post #22 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

So far, no medical treatment has proven to cure Cancer.

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Cancer survival rates are greatly improving. Sadly as all cancers are different, and manifest themselves differently in each patient, there's still a long way to go. Science is getting there though.
post #23 of 72
Steve Jobs lived life on his own terms. We don't know for sure if putting off surgery lessoned his chances, but in hindsight it certainly didn't help him. I remember after the surgery they announced that the tumor was fully removed. But cancer is a tricky disease because it can re-appear at anytime and in any place. I am just thankful for the time we did have Steve Jobs with us. It's obvious from the speech he gave at Stanford, that as a Buddhist he believed in the cycle of life, death, and re-birth. Perhaps he had a different perspective than most people...
post #24 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SwissMac2 View Post

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms there is, with a five year survival rate of less than 10%. Its likely therefore that no matter what Jobs did he would not live for decades. Going seven years is pretty good going if you ask me - that's 2 years longer than 90% of people who suffer from Cancer of the Pancreas.

Of course he regretted not doing all he could as early as possible, but that's only natural and probably wouldn't have made much difference to the outcome.

The form of pancreatic cancer Jobs had (islet-cell neuroendocrine) is treatable and actually has a median survival time of 10 years. The much more common form of pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) has a median survival rate of around 6 months.

Jobs' delay in seeking treatment may have shortened his life.
post #25 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

So far, no medical treatment has proven to cure Cancer.

That depends on what you consider the test for being cured is. Does Lance Armstrong have any signs of cancer right now? Sure, it may come back.

My mom dealt with breast cancer - 15 years ago. She's fine now. She's 78. If she makes it the rest of her life with no recurrence, was she considered cured?

Does removal of the cancerous cells (or organs) count as medical "treatment?"

Cervical cancer is considered curable, if found early enough.
post #26 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SwissMac2 View Post

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal forms there is, with a five year survival rate of less than 10%. Its likely therefore that no matter what Jobs did he would not live for decades. Going seven years is pretty good going if you ask me - that's 2 years longer than 90% of people who suffer from Cancer of the Pancreas.

Of course he regretted not doing all he could as early as possible, but that's only natural and probably wouldn't have made much difference to the outcome.

I completely agree.

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post #27 of 72
Don't be so hard with him. He's only human. Remarkable yes, but still human subject to making mistakes just like everyone else.
post #28 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

Such a smart man with so much going for him and still he thought in a stupid (and selfish) manner. One might argue that it is not selfish thinking but it is. One needs to think about how their life touches everyone else in their life when making a decision about how to go about treating a terminal illness.

Having said that, I know and understand his reasoning, and have felt the same way at one time, but never again. I was lucky.

I wouldn't attribute the decision-making on stupidity. I would attribute it more to fear, which is probably what all of us would feel if faced by the same circumstance. But now that we have his example to remind us, we will probably be able conquer our fears should we find ourselves in a similar situation.
post #29 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

So far, no medical treatment has proven to cure Cancer.

No but at this point medical intervention probably offers a better prognosis than a herbal / spiritual route after diagnosis.

The medical route would definitely seem the better and more pragmatic choice when the diagnosis was an early stage and operable variety of a normally much more deadly one.
post #30 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by slapppy View Post

Don't be so hard with him. He's only human. Remarkable yes, but still human subject to making mistakes just like everyone else.

What would Steve have done / said?
post #31 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Bull. Not when you have kids, loved ones, a corporation and millions of fans out there. It probably was his arrogant self serving self assurance - which was an instrumental part of his driving force and which made him great - that also prevented him from taking sensible advice and instead only listen to himself. Stupidly. Sadly. Not to pass judgement but to call his survival 'the desire of others' is ridiculous.

I would stop at kids and loved ones. All the rest are immaterial in this discussion.
post #32 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

Alternative medicines can be beneficial in some cases. But when Cancer is involved, bring on the surgery, drugs, and radiation.

There's a word for alternative medicine that works. It's called medicine.

If you have any disease, please trust real doctors with real medical qualifications. Alternative medicine has left us with Apple minus Steve Jobs and wrong-sounding muppets.
post #33 of 72
As someone with OCD about contamination from other people and thus is repulsed by blood transfusions and organ transplants I totally sympathise with Jobs.

At least he wasnt in the UK and so didnt have to put up with our lousy NHS (No Help Service) with thier arrogant rude and intimidating doctors, (just what you need whe youre ill & scared) dirty hospitals and second hand surgical instruments from cheap manufacturers in India with blood on them.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13894880
post #34 of 72
deleted by poster. Redundant.
post #35 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedalmatian View Post

At least he wasnt in the UK and so didnt have to put up with our lousy NHS (No Help Service) with thier arrogant rude and intimidating doctors, (just what you need whe youre ill & scared) dirty hospitals and second hand surgical instruments from cheap manufacturers in India with blood on them.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13894880

Ah, the grass is always greener. . .
post #36 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post

What got him killed was more or less the same thing that made him great. It's the way of the world.

Exactly.
post #37 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

There's a word for alternative medicine that works. It's called medicine.

If you have any disease, please trust real doctors with real medical qualifications. Alternative medicine has left us with Apple minus Steve Jobs and wrong-sounding muppets.

Alternative medicine is becoming intricately added to most major US Medical University Schools.

Please be careful in defining the term, ``alternative medicine,'' as that includes ares of Acupuncture, physical massage therapies, dieting and much more.

Sorry, but bombarding the body with heavy doses of radiation, or target specific isotopes is not the solution.

I've had 9 members in my family with 9 different types of cancer. They've all died within 18 months after surgery and radiation.
post #38 of 72
This is a ridiculous statement. Cancer is no joke. Further, deciding on a care treatment plan is also no joke. You will get different opinions from different highly qualified experts. You also have to weigh the options in relation to the risk involved and quality of life after treatment. Generally the treatments will only add a couple of extra years of life. Is that worth it if the risk of death is high from the treatment and the quality of life afterwards low? Maybe not.

Moreover, Jobs was a very holistic person who embraced alternative forms of medicine that for something less serious may have been a plausible form of treatment. On top of all that you typically have to make decisions relatively quickly all while processing life shattering news.

It is quite easy to judge something from an outside perspective after the fact. Making these decisions, however, is an entirely different matter. From all I read Jobs was lucky to get the years he did, and even if he could have received more years, the odds of it being very many more was low.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

Such a smart man with so much going for him and still he thought in a stupid (and selfish) manner. One might argue that it is not selfish thinking but it is. One needs to think about how their life touches everyone else in their life when making a decision about how to go about treating a terminal illness.

Having said that, I know and understand his reasoning, and have felt the same way at one time, but never again. I was lucky.
post #39 of 72
Unlike most americans, at least he had health insurance.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedalmatian View Post

At least he wasnt in the UK and so didnt have to put up with our lousy NHS (No Help Service) with thier arrogant rude and intimidating doctors, (just what you need whe youre ill & scared) dirty hospitals and second hand surgical instruments from cheap manufacturers in India with blood on them.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13894880
post #40 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

I wouldn't attribute the decision-making on stupidity. I would attribute it more to fear, which is probably what all of us would feel if faced by the same circumstance. But now that we have his example to remind us, we will probably be able conquer our fears should we find ourselves in a similar situation.

I don't have the article in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing; but in the late 90's timeframe in an interview in one of the business mags (Fortune, I think), Jobs was asked if he had any regrets (they were talking about the whole getting fired from Apple, starting Next, coming back to Appleall that stuff Jobs went through back then).

His response was something along the lines of: "Sure, there are a zillion things I wish I had done differently. But I think things you truly regret are the things you didn't do. You always regret not asking that girl to dance."

It's the hard things, the scary things, the things that you didn't have the courage to do at the time, that you later regret. For all the man's creative and technical genius, he was just a man.
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