Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Steve Jobs is due out on Monday, but already a sad revelation from the book has come to light: Steve Jobs delayed the first operation on his pancreatic cancer back in 2004, ignoring the urgent pleas of his wife, friends and colleagues.
According to Isaacson, speaking to 60 Minutes:
“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 [60 Minutes correspondent Steve] 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.”
By the time Jobs had surgery, the cancer had spread to the surrounding tissue. An earlier operation may well have given Jobs a much better chance at long-term survival.
Heartbreaking, and 100% human. Surgery is a deeply personal, invasive thing, and for a man as control-driven as Steve Jobs, the idea of being helpless in your own body against the ravages of cancer must have been difficult to accept. Who knows if Steve wouldn’t still be with us, though, if he’d come to terms with his sickness sooner?
The 60 Minutes segment on Isaacson’s book will air this Sunday at 7PM ET.