Biographer: Steve Jobs refused early and potentially life-saving surgery for nine months (with video)

“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,” CBS News reports. “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.”

“”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,” CBS News reports. “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.'”

CBS News reports, “He finally had the surgery and told his employees about it, but played down the seriousness of his condition. Isaacson says he was receiving cancer treatments in secret even though he was telling everyone he was cured.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What’s done is done. Hopefully the revelation will help save other people’s lives.

Related articles:
Doctor: There’s no way of knowing if nine-month surgery delay shortened Steve Jobs’ life – October 15, 2011
Harvard Medical School researcher: Steve Jobs’ trust in alternative medicine likely shortened his life – October 14, 2011


    1. There’s nothing here that most of us haven’t already suspected. While Steve Jobs made a lot of great decisions this wasn’t one of them, especially when his very life and life extension was on the line. All of his subsequent treatments and liver transplant may not have been needed. It was an irresponsible decision though certainly his right to make though many others will also pay a price in one way or the other (his family, friends, Apple, & the world). As far as I understand it though even with TIMELY treatable pancreatic cancer you are still living on borrowed time that eventually catches up.

    2. “what could have been life-saving surgery”

      And who says that?? A writer? Even if surgeons said that, here’s where the problem starts with people discussing with no knowledge or usually under wrong assumptions…. “could have been”.

      Let me make it easy for you to understand….

      If Mr Jobs had waited, say 4 months, the writer would be writing the same thing today “why he did not get an operation then??”. Now, cut that to 2, same thing.

      Of course getting out or stopping that thing as soon as possible makes a lot of sense but the issue remains, “could have been”. The surgeons could not guarantee he would be cured after the surgery or how much longer he would be here with us.

      I would attack it from both fronts, the surgery or medical treatment and the alternative (esoteric or otherwise) bulshit that you mention.

      In situations like that it all comes down to own beliefs and that’s what you usually do.

    3. ‘I didn’t want my body to be opened…I didn’t want to be violated in that way”

      This really sums it up, the Whipple Procedure is incredibly invasive, re-routing the intestines, etc. Look it up… I’d be reluctant too.

      All the crap about “magical thinking” on the other hand is dismissable conjecture.

  1. Groan…not this again. I am always skeptical of these biographers when the person is dead and cannot call…Bullshit. It may be true it may not be true. Why give out interviews saying interpretive statements like…”I think he kind of felt that….” This is the biographer’s interpretation, not Job’s statement or true thought processes.

      1. Reynolds, before dissing others, please read what I said more carefully. As a scientist I am trained to be skeptical. My unease comes from when these Biographers, and I agree with all who say Steve chose him carefully, start to ‘interpret’ some things Steve said or did as evidenced by interview lines like..I think he kind of felt….”. These are not Steve’s thoughts but Isaacson’s thoughts.

        1. There are few people more qualified to speak towards what he might have thought than the guy who spent years asking him what he thought and getting answers to those questions.

          Please STFU now.

      1. maclouie,

        How old are you? You’re not squatting in Zuccotti Park by any chance, are you?

        When a man like Jobs chooses a biographer, he gives him everything. No other man alive today can tell us with more precision what Steve Jobs thought and felt than Walter Isaacson. Period. An official biographer to a living person like Jobs is not some author removed from the subject researching shit on the internet. God, some people are dense fscks.

        This is the problem with some people today. It is NOT up to you to believe what you want to believe when the OVERWHELMING PREPONDERANCE OF FACTS tell you exactly what to believe.

        Just because you don’t fscking like it doesn’t mean you can decide not to believe it.

        1. A lot of delusional people = Obama = stagnant 18.5% underemployment. Misery index off the charts. Class warfare. Etc.

          We told you idiots that Obama was a totally inexperienced, empty-suit, junior senator with zero experience in doing anything but rabble rousing as a “community organizer.” We told you morons that voting for such an unaccomplished man to be U.S. President was masochism. The facts now bear this out.

          Unfortunately, a lot of fools chose to believe whatever they wanted instead of looking at the plain facts. We’d be far better off today with even a John McCain (who, by the way, ChrissyOne, is still very much alive and kicking) than we are today.

          We wouldn’t have to repeal Obamacare since it would have never been signed. We would have had a coherent economic policy that let businesses plan for the future (and also hire) without fear of who’d be targeted as being “too rich” next.

          I could go on and on and on…

          Listen, if you think “it’s up to each of us to believe what we want,” facts be damned, please do not vote. You’re too stupid to make proper decisions.

            1. Seriously, if you want to compare the current VP vs’ Palin, I’d take Palin any damn day. As for Prez, come on, get real. McCain actually did something with his life before running.

            2. We have a retard for president – sorry, “special olympian” for you kind-hearted libs – and damn near a vegetable as VP.

              McCain-Palin would have been far preferable.

              Most of us Indies have wised up to the mass media’s ways. They sold us a bill of goods. We’re voting GOP next November en masse!

          1. What we see from outside the U.S. is a President who is at the mercy of the Republicans, whose official policy is “If we are governing, then shut ’em down”, who work hard to hijack the agenda with the Tea Party jackasses. When Obama was elected you got a lot of “cred” overseas, but you have proven that you never deserved it. Until you collectively get your head out of your asses you are screwed. The Soviet Union fell, the way you are going you’re next. It’s called HUBRIS, look it up.

        2. Interesting use of three negatives in your last sentence. If two mean a positive, does three make your statement negative?

          In most languages, two negatives make a positive. English is the only language where two positives make a negative…yeah…right.

  2. As I explained last Friday:

    The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine system. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones as well as a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist the absorption of nutrients and the digestion in the small intestine. These enzymes help to further break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids in the chyme.

    With that background, I submit that Jobs, being the control freak he is, screwed up his pancreas in the first place, long before he doomed himself by wasting 9 months with “special alternative medicines and diets.”

    From his official biographer Walter Isaacson’s article, “American Icon,” in Time Magazine (October 17, 2011):

    “The unified field theory that ties together Jobs’ personality and products begins with his most salient trait, his intensity. It was evident even in high school. By then he had begun his lifelong experimentation with compulsive diets…” (bold emphasis mine)

    Jobs thought he knew better than everyone else. That resulted in wonderful products. It also caused him to ravage his pancreas to the point of collapse. Even then, he still thought he knew better, and blew 9 crucial months doing God knows what else to his poor digestive system.

    I believe that the very intensity and steadfast belief in himself that made him so great also resulted in his untimely death.

    1. I agree with you about the bad decision on the operation, but not the cube =). Everyone knows that Steve Jobs in his early years did drugs, no one can’t know if it wasn’t started with the consuption of LSD and other, this, including the strange diet of fruit wallnuts and water. Or if it’s simply genetic. At this point anyone can say anything, but we will never know, anything, for sure

  3. Whatever the facts (and 20/20 hindsight) in this particular case, having major surgery is NOT always the best solution in EVERY case. Let’s not turn this into “always immediate surgery with no consideration of alternatives.”

    Doctors are human. If the doctor is a surgeon, he or she may have a tendency to advocate surgery, because THAT is their area of expertise. It’s what they know best. If a doctor is a general oncologist, he or she may advocate chemical or radiation treatment, before considering surgery.

    Get all the facts, all the opinions, and all the options. THEN, make a well-considered decision.

  4. This is just as much what made Steve who he was. His approach to everything else ended up being the wrong for his health, but the way he thought about things is the reason we have so many awesome products.

    I don’t know if you can have one without the other sadly. Looking forward to the biography.

  5. As I explained last Friday:

    1) the specific form of cancer Jobs had is very slow in development and takes years before it even shows any sign of its own existence. It leaves no traces. This multi-month delay, if indeed it existed, might have no relation to the progress of the illness at all.

    2) As additional proof of #1, after surgery, Jobs was perfectly clean of cancer by all possible tests for quite a time before the metastasis was found in the liver.

    3) with Isaacson’s confirming that Jobs himself admitted the delay, however strange and conflicted it is considering other circumstances, it is not just a rumour information any more. The quantity of months of delay is in question, though. Not sure how well Isaacson actually established that it was “nine month delay”; it could be May to August 2004 delay, for example. Still a delay, but with less months.

    1. 4) the claim that the tumour “spread to the tissues around the pancreas” is very strange. If you have an idea about anatomy, you know that there are no just any random tissues around pancreas. Other organs are around pancreas. However, there was never a hint that Job’s Duodenum, stomach or spleen were somehow cut.

    2. Why should we have told Steve Jobs what to do with his body and his life? Surely everyone has the right to go to hell in their own sweet way, even if you make a mistake along the way.

  6. Issacson is not your average writer or biographer. Don’t make this some kind of witch hunt hate fest on him. He was chosen by Steve Jobs, and many other very notable persons – because he has incredible integrity, honesty, and skill.

  7. Steve did what he thought was best.

    That is all.

    Watch his speech at Stanford, and you’ll see that you can only join the dots looking back. Unfortunately his cancer was one dot that didn’t allow him that privilege.

  8. I read the book that started Steve on his nutritional quests. Extremely compelling book. My ex screwed up his digestive system following the book. The book was correct but the times we live in actually do not allow for such a pure diet. Steve abided by his principles and learned from his mistakes. He is a great soul. He now has a whole new invigorated start in heaven and will dazzle the angels.

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