Steve Jobs Refused Early Cancer Treatment, Regretted Alternative Therapies

Oct 20, 2011 - 23 Comments

Steve Jobs official biographer Walter Isaacson told 60 minutes that Mr Jobs refused early cancer treatment and later regretted his decision to try alternative therapies:

Apple CEO Steve Jobs refused to allow surgeons to perform what could have been life-saving surgery on his pancreatic cancer, says his biographer Walter Isaacson. In one of his deepest discussions with him, Isaacson says Jobs told him he regretted his decision to try alternative therapies and said he put off the operation because it was too invasive.

Early surgery could potentially have saved his life, and by the time the surgery did occur 9 months later in 2004, the cancer had spread to tissues surrounding his pancreas. Here’s a snippet on why Jobs refused the surgery early on:

“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 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.”

The idea that Jobs cancer was not adequately treated is a disturbing concept, but echoes closely the thoughts of Harvard medical researcher Ramzi Amri, who in a prominent thread on Quora, essentially asserted that Steve Jobs cancer should have been treatable and survivable.

The full 60 minutes segment on Steve Jobs with biographer Walter Isaacson airs this Sunday at 7PM on CBS. The official biography of Steve Jobs is to be released on October 24.

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Posted by: Matt Chan in News

23 Comments

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    • Malone says:

      Jobs lated eight years from the time of initial diagnosis. my cousin was a 57 year old nurse and only lasted four months using conventional treatment.

  1. Brian says:

    What an incredibly unpleasant thought. This must explain why he was reported as being so apologetic to his family and friends towards the end, he must have been filled with profound regret about such a decision that was costing him his life.

    Just goes to show, do not ever delay treatment for any disease, and stick with what is scientifically proven.

    • D W says:

      OK Doc. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
      The decision did not cost him his life, just his existence.
      Doctors are not scientists, they are mechanics with degrees.
      The existence and disregard for life keeps the doctors in $$$$$$$$.
      Steve probably would have regretted initial surgery even more than his other “regrets”.
      Steve may be in a better place.

      • HarryFromMA says:

        DW,
        You base your comments on personal, subjective opinion just to make sure you can diss doctors.
        1) You say Jobs “MAY be in a better place.” So? You don’t know, and you aren’t even sure about your opinion, except that you aren’t sure. What confidence this does NOT exude.
        2) Since you aren’t sure, Jobs could be in a WORSE place, ro non-existent. YOU do NOT know. NO facts, just opinion based on yuor desires to beleive whatever you beleive, yes?
        3) Doctors have helped millions. They are human, they have shortcomings. So what? So do people who continue to follow the alternative cures lying, huckster, ex-com & BS artist Kevin Trudeau. Or Earl Mindell who wrote a number of alternative ‘medicine’ claims, including the best seller The Vitamin Bible/The Vitamin Bible for the 21st/20th {?} Century. There are alternative fakes, impotent ‘cures’/’treatments’, etc., as well as some things that can be beneficial. If you aren’t told by the ‘alternative treatment’ author, and they do NOT always tell us, mixing medicine with an alternative, or alternative w/alternative, can bring bad results of varying degrees.
        4) You distort what doctors are that suits your extremist bias against the doctors. They are NOT just “mechanics a=with a degree”. The alternative authors, ‘doctors’, etc., are that and worse. So what if the doctors are? Mechanics find the problem and work to fix it. You can’t even chose a decent analogy to smear the traditional doctors you love to hate, condescend to (with what degree do YOU speak from, dear?).
        5) “Steve PROBABLY would have” – again, you speculate based on NOTHING except yuor poor excuse for thinking and opinions. You wouldn’t have the foggiest idea.

        Please. Stop pushing dangerous idiocy. The article speaks for itself.
        You just don’t like it.
        Tough.
        Man up & wake up.

        • HarryFromMA says:

          I have a few spelling errors in my response.

          • HarryFromMA says:

            CORRECTED:
            DW,
            You base your comments on personal, subjective opinion just to make sure you can diss doctors.
            1) You say Jobs “MAY be in a better place.” So? You don’t know, and you aren’t even sure about your opinion, except that you aren’t sure. What confidence this does NOT exude.
            2) Since you aren’t sure, Jobs could be in a WORSE place, or non-existent. YOU do NOT know. NO facts, just opinion based on your desires to believe whatever you believe, yes?
            3) Doctors have helped millions. They are human, they have shortcomings. So what? So do people who continue to follow the ‘alternative cures’ lying, huckster, ex-con & BS artist Kevin Trudeau. Or Earl Mindell who wrote a number of alternative ‘medicine’ books, including the best seller The Vitamin Bible/The Vitamin Bible for the 21st/20th {?} Century. There are alternative fakes, impotent ‘cures’/’treatments’, etc., as well as some things that can be beneficial. If you aren’t told by the ‘alternative treatment’ author, and they do NOT always tell us, mixing medicine with an alternative, or alternative w/alternative, can bring bad results of varying degrees.
            There are those in the ‘alternative health’ field that lie, omit, gloss over, distort, etc. Welcome to the real world.
            4) You distort what doctors are that suits your extremist bias against the doctors. They are NOT just “mechanics with a degree”. The alternative authors, ‘doctors’, etc., are that and worse. So what if the doctors are? Mechanics find the problem and work to fix it. You can’t even chose a decent analogy to smear the traditional doctors you love to hate, condescend to (with what degree do YOU speak from, dear?).
            5) “Steve PROBABLY would have” – again, you speculate based on NOTHING except your poor excuse for thinking and opinions. You wouldn’t have the foggiest idea.

            Please. Stop pushing dangerous idiocy. The article speaks for itself.
            You just don’t like it.
            Tough.
            Man up & wake up.

          • Paul says:

            More like MENTAL errors lol

          • Paul says:

            “I have a few spelling errors in my response.”

            More like MENTAL errors lol

        • Paul says:

          Oops, more mad ramblings from crazy HarryFromMA. Just ignore this little turd.

  2. Pointy McStupid says:

    What is “Jobs cancer”? Did he get a disease named after him?

  3. Chester von Skunt says:

    Wow herbal remedies are a scam? who woulda thought! As bad as people think big phara is at least they have to test their products rigorously (and yes they don’t always catch everything) and actually prove exactly how they work… if you’re a “natural” or “herbal” drug maker you can quite literally poop into a bag and sell it as a cure for cancer. No wonder natural drug makers don’t want to be regulated, they’re making a killing off of ‘tards who actually believe this stuff. Besides some specific cases where research has been done, the effects barely outweigh that of a placebo.

  4. Aj says:

    sponsored by Pfizer.. nice.

  5. steve says:

    Surgery is the primary treatment for solid cancers, not drugs. Get the tumor out early enough, and you’ve got a reasonable shot at life. Anything else is a gamble.

    Whatever opinions people have about chemotherapy and drug companies, being opposed to life-saving surgery is just plain stupid.

    It’s sort of like getting shot with a bullet and telling a surgeon, “Nah, don’t sew me up, just let it bleed.”

  6. Mark says:

    It is regrettable.

    But… history has already recorded that the man single-handedly transformed our relationship with technology. His influence has already started a total and complete revolution in the way humans expect technology to work for us.

    The third millennium’s first decade was filled to the very brim with Apple products that made us be different as a species.

    So, it is regrettable for him, but his legacy has survived, and will survive along with the human species.

    I smile thru my tears at his death. He still lives on in the products that touch us all.

  7. Bagou says:

    Why does everything have to be black or white?
    I believe in scientific rigor and modern medicine: Some doctors are certainly the noblest, altruistic and smart people out there; yet does it not seem obvious that some are incompetent modern drug pushers prescribing antibiotics for mere headaches? Should you have blind fate in what your doctor´s says and not seek a second opinion, even from alternative sources. The individuals can be well intentioned, the science itself noble in definition, yet the market reality and corporate entity which is created can be quite profit-oriented, and by that I mean that they might put profit as their main and only goal. Our modern system treats the symptoms while actually generating the cause. Did you know that medical practice can very well be the third cause of death in the USA, while the two first ones are closely tied to tobacco consumption and poor food quality? All three markets are often held by the same shareholders.

    I also believe in traditional medicine aimed at understanding the underlining cause, or natural therapy aimed at preventing the illness in the first place. For sure, given the less centralized controlling bodies, many charlatans will try to sell you whatever green tea as the solution to your ills. But again, to play my own devil´s advocate, a green tea is probably less dangerous than indiscriminate wide use of antibiotics for common flu or anti-depressors for any behavioral alterations our kids may have.

    My suggestion is to trust no ONE; make your decision based on common sense, contrasting opinion, testimonies, books, and even the internet, and of course your doctor as the main reference but not as God herself. Prevent as much as possible, avoid modern medicine and treatments (antibiotics, preventive tonsils removal, etc.), unless they are well explained to you, seem required, or are critical and very time sensitive (such as Jobs example).

    The only thing I don´t believe in is regret. That is truly useless. From my understanding, Jobs did not delay the treatment because he was told or believed there was a natural, safer and more convenient/reliable option. Not because of any philosophical conviction towards natural vs. modern medicine. He might have panicked, tried to ignore it, maybe snoozed hoping it would disappear by itself. Something we probably all have done at one point or another in our lives but maybe with a less dramatic impact, and for sure less public. Nine months is not so long for other diseases. Now people take it as a reference to discredit all “alternative” medicines. I believe this reasoning to be misleading and based on prejudices, maybe even motivated by private interests.

    Just a thought, I might be wrong. Good health to you all.
    Gab

    • kostas says:

      Although I disagree in some points, I do believe that what you wrote is just beautiful. Go be a writer or something.

    • Kent says:

      Thoughtful response, but you made a glaring error: a person should never, ever, trust “testimonies” also known as “anecdotes”. They are the worst possible kind of evidence and in fact, they are not evidence at all but simply stories that might be compelling and interesting but offer no scientifically rigorous information. What the scientific method has taught us is that humans are very, very good at fooling ourselves into thinking treatments work when they really do nothing at all. As Carl Sagan once said, “science is a way for us to keep from fooling ourselves”.

      What a person should trust is the body of scientific literature, taken as a whole. Not 1 study or even a few studies, not 1 doctor or even a few doctors, but the entire body of literature. If one does this, you might still be wrong because there are still areas of uncertainty about many illnesses. But at least you give yourself the best possible chance of recovery and you will almost always avoid nonsensical “alternative” treatments and charlatans.

      There is really no such thing as “alternative” treatments, there are only treatments that have been shown to work in rigorous scientific studies and those that don’t. The original “alternative” treatment, limes for scurvy, was accepted by the scientific community because it worked under scientifically rigorous conditions. Any treatment that can do that will be accepted, and become “mainstream”. What this means is that if someone calls a treatment “alternative” then they are either saying 1) it hasn’t yet passed rigorous scientific testing or 2) it failed rigorous scientific testing. Not sure why someone would try a treatment that met either of those conditions.

  8. kdxlivewire says:

    There are very interesting comments in all of these replies. I tend to side with Bagou’s comments and as a medical student myself lean towards this line of thinking.
    As I become more aware of the “scientific approach” using peer review as the main method of it’s foundation I am starting to see that the alternatives to modern medicine do not see the light of day due to lack of interest to fund clinical trials, due to lack of profit for doing so. In most cases testimonials are the only proof that supports these possibly (or possibly not) brilliant treatments/preventions of disease. There are however many clinical trials of these treatments that do not see the inside covers of popular medical magazines. As for only trusting scientific trials, I would not put all my faith in the one basket, along with my eggs. They are sometimes riddled with inconsistencies and even if they are not, they are often misinterpreted to suit a readers own intentions. As for myself, I would love to know what sort of advice Steve took to try to combat his situation, more exactly, his diet, sleep patterns, blah blah blah… and all the rest that comes with such questions.

    Take care everyone and good health.

  9. Sjayz says:

    I agree with ‘Sjayz’. Alternative treatment is just another way of saying that something doesnt work well enough to be used in professional practices (e.g. Hospitals). IF these alternative treatments were the best way to cute something, then HOSPITALS.etc WOULD BE USING THEM!

    Just my opinion, I’m sure some alternative methods can be beneficial, but I just think they are not the best cure.

    But Steve Jobs has left a huge legacy. I mean, think about how many people are probable reading this article using one of his products!

    Good health to you all!

  10. Sjayz says:

    SORRY, I MEANT ‘I agree with ‘Kent”
    SORRY!

  11. ShiSnyi says:

    I totally agree with you D W !!

    HarryFromMA is someone who tries to correct others with his self-righteous ego-boasting attitude when actually he doesn’t know anything. People without much experience in life are always like that.
    Doctors are definitely mechanics with not only degrees, but with license to kill… lawfully. Specially cancer doctors. They do everything to weaken the patients immune system and give them death sentences in the end. And they will come visit once in a while just to see if the patient is still breathing….

    I’d say, Steve Jobs was definitely correct in choosing the alternative treatments. The only mistake he made was not sticking to his original decision after 9 months.

    Its impossible for a pancreatic patient to live longer than 5 years whatever treatment he gets. How did you think Steve Jobs survived 8 years if not for the alternative treatments he had taken??

  12. Paul says:

    Please ignore HarryFromMA, he’s just a troll who spergs every corner of the internet with his right-wing crap.

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