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Steve Jobs refused cancer treatment

21 October 2011, 12:36

New York - Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs refused potentially life-saving cancer surgery for nine months, shrugging off his family's protests and opting instead for alternative medicine, according to the tech visionary's biographer.

When he eventually sought surgery, the rare form of pancreatic cancer had spread to the tissues surrounding the organ, biographer Walter Isaacson said in an interview with 60 Minutes on CBS, to be aired on Sunday.

Jobs also played down the seriousness of his condition and told everyone he was cured, but kept receiving treatment in secret, Isaacson said in the interview.

The biography hits bookstores on October 24 and emerged from scores of interviews with Jobs. It is expected to paint an unprecedented, no-holds-barred portrait of a man who famously guarded his privacy fiercely but whose death ignited a global outpouring of grief and tribute.

The book reveals Jobs was bullied in school, tried various diets as a teenager, and exhibited early strange behaviour such as staring at others without blinking, according to the Associated Press, which said it bought a copy on Thursday, without disclosing how.


In his 60 Minutes interview, Isaacson confirmed details that had previously been speculated upon or widely reported, including that Jobs might have been cured of his "slow-growing" cancer had he sought professional treatment sooner, rather than resorting to unconventional means.

"He tries to treat it with diet. He goes to spiritualists. He goes to various ways of doing it macrobiotically and he doesn't get an operation," Isaacson said in the interview.

Jobs deeply regretted putting off a decision that might have ultimately saved his life, according to Isaacson.

"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," he said. "We talked about this a lot."

The biographer did not specify which surgical procedure he was referring to in his interview.

Jobs announced in August 2004 that he had undergone surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from his pancreas. In 2008 and 2009 - as his dwindling weight stirred increasing alarm in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street - he said first he was fighting a "common bug", then that he was suffering from a hormone imbalance.

In 2009, news emerged that he had undergone a liver transplant.


Jobs died on October 5 at the age of 56. Outpourings of sympathy swept across the globe as state leaders, business rivals and fans paid their respects to the man who touched the daily lives of countless millions through the Macintosh computer, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Jobs had never revealed much about his life or thinking - until he commissioned Isaacson for a biography he hoped would let his children know him better.

Adopted as a baby by a family in Silicon Valley, Jobs met his biological father - Abdulfattah "John" Jandali - several times in the 1980s without realising who he was, according to Isaacson.

Jandali had been running a restaurant in the area at the time. But Jobs never got in touch with Jandali once he found out the restaurateur was his biological father, according to an excerpt from the TV interview posted on CBS' website.

The technology icon also revealed he stopped going to church at age 13 after he saw starving children on the cover of Life Magazine, the AP cited the book as saying.

Jobs spent years studying Zen Buddhism and has travelled through India in search of spiritual guidance.

He talked in his biography about his love for design and called Apple's design chief Jonathan Ive his "spiritual partner"; Ive had "more operation power" at Apple than anyone besides Jobs himself, according to AP.

Jobs, who counted The Beatles among his favourites, came up with the name of his iconic company while on one of his "fruitarian diets". He had just returned from an apple farm and thought the moniker was "fun, spirited and not intimidating", AP cited the biography as saying.

- Reuters


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