n a new book that goes on sale today, author Walter Isaacson reveals more details about the late Apple founder Steve Jobs’ decision to try to cure his pancreatic cancer with alternatives rather than receive the surgery that could have saved his life.
The New York Times is reporting that the new biography is giving even more details about Jobs’ decision to delay a potentially life-saving surgery to remove a tumor that was growing on his pancreas. Even though pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal of all cancers, the kind Jobs had was considered the most treatable if the tumor was removed promptly.
In Jobs case, it wasn’t.
According to Isaacson, Jobs infuriated and distressed his family and friends by putting off the surgery for nine months while he tried alternatives such as Dr. Dean Ornish’s diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments he found online. He even consulted a psychic and was influenced by a doctor who advised juice fasts, bowel cleansing and other unproven approaches.
His sister, Mona Simpson, urged him to have surgery and chemotherapy, but he refused.
A good friend and mentor, Andrew Grove, the former head of Intel, who had overcome prostate cancer, also told Mr. Jobs that diets and acupuncture were not a cure for cancer. “I told him he was crazy,” he said.
Art Levinson, a member of Apple’s board and chairman of Genentech, recalled that he pleaded with Mr. Jobs and was frustrated that he could not persuade him to have surgery.
“The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body,” said Jobs’ wife Laurene Powell. “It’s hard to push someone to do that.” She did try, however, Mr. Isaacson writes. “The body exists to serve the spirit,” she argued.
Jobs, a Buddhist, claims to have quit Christianity at the age of 13 after seeing a picture of starving children on the cover of Life magazine. This could explain why, in October 2003, one of the first calls he made after learning about his cancer was to longtime friend Larry Brilliant, a physician and epidemiologist who he met at an ashram in India.
“Do you still believe in God?” Jobs asked.
Brilliant said he spoke for a few minutes about religion and the different paths to belief before asking Jobs what was wrong.
“I have cancer,” he was told.
Jobs ultimately underwent the necessary surgery in July, 2004. Most doctors agree that it is impossible to know for sure if Jobs decision to delay the surgery actually cost him his life.
He died on October 5, 2011, at the age of 56.