Last week, it was fascinating to watch the 60 Minutes interview on CBS. l If you missed it,  you can watch it online:

When I saw the previews for the show, I said to myself that alternative medicine was really going to take a hit with this new biography.  And it did.  However, I also thought there is more to this story than meets the eye, and I thought maybe I have something to offer in explaining what little I know about Steve Job’s medical case.  Granted I am doing a great deal of speculation, and maybe his actual biography explains all of it in more detail, but only a cancer survivor can really understand the dilemma Steve Jobs faced when he was first diagnosed.

When Steve Jobs was diagnosed with that pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, he was told that his tumor was slow-growing.  This particular type of tumor is not the same as the pancreatic cancer that kills in 3-6 months. He was offered surgery but declined to pursue alternative therapies.  What the general public does not understand is that the surgery that he was offered has a 20% mortality rate from the surgery itself.  It is one of the most brutal, invasive surgeries medicine has to offer.  They basically redo your gastrointestinal system, and you never are normal again with eating and digesting food.  In fact, the surgery has so many horrendous side effects that it gives one pause.  Here is a link that explains a lot about the Whipple and a lot more from the medical point of view.

This diagnosis occurred for Steve Jobs when he was 48 years old in 2003.  He was at the height of his career.  His younger children were 12, 8, and 5 years old.

Medical decisions are made with the information at hand, the pros and cons of any treatment, and the thought processes of the patient.  Even though in retrospect, it may not have been the best of decisions since surgical cures in cancer are the  most reliable cures, he was facing a very invasive operation.  He knew his life could end right then and there.  And he was told his tumor was slow-growing.  So his choice was to try alternatives first.  He regretted that decision later because when he did have to consent to the Whipple, his tumor already spread outside the pancreas.

No one in the media has mentioned what if the surgery out and outright caused his death in 2003?  That was before the iphone, ipod, and ipad.  The world would have lost a genius a whole lot sooner, and his children would have been eight years younger in the process.

This is exactly why the what if game in cancer isn’t a good game to play. With a cancer diagnosis, the patient, and I was one, can only make the best decision at the time weighing all the circumstances.  I am sure at the time Steve Jobs did just that.  It just didn’t turn out well.

So let’s not blame alternative medicine.  This was his choice.  As cancer survivors we all live and die with our choices.  But I do have the no regret policy in my life going for me.  When I had to make my cancer decisions, I didn’t exactly follow the standard of care, and yet it worked for me. (This would be another blog)  In fact in lieu my current state of health, my decisions  were the right ones which was evaluated by another oncologist 14 years later.  I almost fell out of the chair when he told me that.

I have always believed that my choices were and are divinely guided.  Another friend of mine feels the same way.  She had a neuroendocrine tumor, not of the pancreas, but of the small intestine.  Barbara’s story is well-known in this area.  Her surgery, the removal of a significant part of her small intestines was not curative.  The tumors were all over her liver and chemotherapy was recommended which does not have great efficacy in slow-growing tumors. But after her surgery, she decided to go with a strict alt med program that with the surgery saved her life, and a CAT scan three months later showed no liver tumors.  She was well for 10 years before her recurrence, and she is still alive today after about 2 more medical miracles.

Something else that the media isn’t quite being honest about is these neuroendocrine tumors secrete hormones that can eventually kill you even before the cancer does.  In my uncle’s case a parathyroid tumor secreted hormones that destroyed his kidneys.  In Barbara’s case, it destroyed heart valves.  (another story) By Steven Jobs waiting for 9 months, the damage from the hormones also took their toll.

However, the first thing I thought about when I first read his medical history was why the heck medicine was willing to give him a liver transplant?  The anti rejection drugs alone which take down the immune system would be detrimental in any cancer case.  You know there is precedent for this with Mickey Mantle.  He too was given a liver transplant with a known cancer.  Could it be that this is only done for the rich and famous even if it goes against basic medical reasoning with those anti rejection drugs?

Take my friend Barbara.  For the wonderful person she is, but not rich when her cancer recurred Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida saved her life twice.  The second operation removed half of her liver with tumors, but her liver regenerated as livers do. To this day 17 years after diagnosis, she is still alive because she did not have to take anti rejection drugs.  She takes drugs which try to counter the release of the hormones of these tumors, and remember they are slow-growing than most cancers.

In fact, when I analyze Steve Jobs cancer, it seems to me  that I would agree with medicine and what he himself admitted in his biography.  He should have had that surgery right away.  But then I might add, that was the time to embark on a vigorous alternative medicine protocol.  He might still be alive today if he had done that.  There is a Dr. Nicholas Gonzales in NYC has great outcomes in pancreatic cancer compared to standardized medicine.   (That is another story too)

So basically cancer killed Steve Jobs.  Choices that were made could have been different but the bottom line was he did what he wanted to do.  It just didn’t work out.  So, I want the media and physicians to stop beating alt med in the head.  Their decision to do a liver transplant wasn’t a great one either.

Most importantly, we should remember Steve Jobs for the genius he was in conceptualizing communication in the world a whole different way.  For building hardware and software to create the best computers in the world. For being honest in his biography which took real courage.  For fighting the valiant cancer battle his own way.  So rest in peace Steve Jobs.  You did your job well.


My Own Comments After Reading Medical Chapters in His Biography

1.  I couldn’t resist that Biography on the shelf of the store yesterday after I posted my blog.  I wanted to make sure I got the facts straight and the conclusions.  I stand by everything I said, except more information now leads to more comments.

2.  He had an eating disorder since his teenage years.  This did not serve him well to either prevent cancer or go on a wellness program during the cancer journey.  Basically they told him to eat a lot of protein.  And he basically said no.  He was the kind of patient that drives doctors to madness.  But so am I so whom am I to speak.  These eating fetishes of his were very ingrained.  And he was not willing to change.  All the long-term survivors I know were willing to change.  Dr. D’Adamo would have told him to eat according to his genetic heritage.  (  What good is spending a fortune having your genome studied just to take more drugs that obviously didn’t work.

3.  I did not know he took chemo twice.  My take on this is not what medicine wants people to know.  Basically he probably had a slow-growing tumor.  With chemo, the tumor changed to more aggressive.  Here’s how that happens.  Chemo kills the rapidly dividing cells and in the beginning his were not.  The stronger ones are left.  It doesn’t get the cancer stem cells.  The ones that are left become chemo resistant and more virulent, and even more so with the second round of chemo.  This is where surgery first might have prevented having chemo in the first place.  Later his targeted drug therapy to his genome was a failure too.  Who in the history of medicine ever had that to the extent he did.

4.  My friend Barbara never had chemo or radiation.  Her tumors did not become aggressive.

5.  The liver transplant occurred, and this is what I did not know, when he was in liver failure.  For most people taking chemo it has to be detoxified in the liver.  With the liver in bad shape you can see how chemo really is doomed to fail when the liver is involved in most cases.  Why didn’t medicine consider ablation techniques, liver dissection, and or hyperthermia treatments before his liver failed.

6..  He basically became a human guinea pig.  Medicine had a free pass of anything that happened to him, because they could always say look he waited for surgery until the cancer spread.

7.  This all means when he introduced Ipad 2 he was in really bad shape. He needs to be commended for pressing forward like he did.

8.  Then he consented to extreme radiation treatments.  His body was shutting down. I can’t believe he lived to the fall of 2011.

9.  Basically, I felt so sorry for all of his immeasurable suffering.  This occurred through most of his  illness, and he was on morphine since 2008. His quality of life must have been just terrible.

10.  I wouldn’t want to have worked for him in any capacity including medical  considering how he treated his employees and a lot were friends.