I truly believe we have the best medical care in the world. Leaders, billionaires, etc, come from all around the world to seek out the doctors in our country.
Look at what happened to Steve Jobs.
According to Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson, the Apple mastermind eventually came to regret the decision he had made years earlier to reject potentially life-saving surgery in favor of alternative treatments like acupuncture, dietary supplements and juices. Though he ultimately embraced the surgery and sought out cutting-edge experimental methods, they were not enough to save him.
Jobs’ cancer had been discovered by chance during a CT scan in 2003 to look for kidney stones, during which doctors saw a “shadow” on his pancreas. Isaacson told CBS’ 60 Minutes last night that while the news was not good, the upside was that the form of pancreatic cancer from which Jobs suffered (a neuroendocrine islet tumor) was one of the 5% or so that are slow growing and most likely to be cured.
But Jobs refused surgery after diagnosis and for nine months after, favoring instead dietary treatments and other alternative methods. Isaacson says that when he asked Jobs why he had resisted it, Jobs said “I didn’t want my body to be opened…I didn’t want to be violated in that way.” His early resistance to surgery was apparently incomprehensible to his wife and close friends, who continually urged him to do it.
But there seemed to be more to his resistance than just fear of surgery.
“I think that he kind of felt that if you ignore something,” Isaacson told CBS, “if you don’t want something to exist, you can have magical thinking. And it had worked for him in the past.”
It worked in business, anyway – and brilliantly. Jobs’ employees had joked that surrounding him was a “reality distortion field,” which allowed him to make his own rules, and conjure up new products for which there was no precedent or apparent market. His capacity to create the reality he envisioned – and convince others of it – was a large part of his business success.
Another element of Jobs’ decision-making process was, according to Isaacson, his trust of his own instinct. Jobs had spent time studying Buddhism in India, and he felt it served him in his work. “The main thing I’ve learned is intuition, that the people in India are not just pure rational thinkers, that the great spiritual ones also have an intuition.”
But however well his intuition and “magical thinking” may have worked for him at work, Jobs’ postponement of surgery in favor of alternative means was a bizarre executive decision. “We talked about this a lot.” says the biographer. “He wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it. … I think he felt he should have been operated on sooner.”
By the time Jobs finally opted for surgery, the cancer had spread. He had an under-the-radar liver transplant and began putting a lot of energy into researching the most sophisticated experimental methods, making a complete about-face from how he began his treatment years before.
According to the New York Times, Jobs was one of the few people in the world to have his genome sequenced. Collaborating researchers at several institutions sequenced his DNA in order to develop a treatment that would target his specifically mutated cell pathways. He went for an experimental treatment in Switzerland in 2009, which involves using a radioactive isotope to attack the faulty hormone-producing cells of the body.
These treatments may well have extended his life, but nine months is a long time to wait in cancer time. And while there’s truth to the notion that food and supplements can aid a body’s repair mechanisms, there’s a limit to what they can do. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most insidious forms of cancer, and has few survivors.
Isaacson says Jobs started talking about an afterlife more and more towards the end. On one of the interview recordings, Jobs says, “Maybe it’s ’cause I want to believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear. The wisdom you’ve accumulated. Somehow it lives on.”
But he adds, “Yeah, but sometimes I think it’s just like an on-off switch. Click and you’re gone. And that’s why I don’t like putting on-off switches on Apple devices.”
It’s impossible to know what went into Jobs’ decisions at work and at home, and whether his unexpected medical decisions were in spite of or because of his business brilliance. But for a man who revolutionized the way we work, communicate, and play, it’s certain that his life was too short
As long as you're alive, there is hope.
dx 7/04 stage IV
colon resection 8/04
liver resection 9/04 with HAI pump installed
Stage II trial w irinotecan as systemic and FUDR for direct chemo to liver via HAI pump
Cured since 9/04