Jobs turned to alternative medicine in a bid to live

Jobs turned to alternative medicine in a bid to live

When he took to the path of surgery, he did so with passion and curiosity, sparing no expense.

Unique ways : Steve Jobs had said that he was either going to be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last  “to die from it.”

Walter Isaacson’s book says Jobs was one of 20 people to have the genes of their tumor and normal DNA sequenced.

His early decision to put off surgery and rely instead on fruit juices, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments — some of which he found on the Internet — infuriated and distressed his family, friends and physicians, the book says. From the time of his first diagnosis in October 2003, until he received surgery in July 2004, he kept his condition largely private — secret from Apple employees, executives and shareholders, who were misled.

Although the broad outlines of Jobs’s struggle with pancreatic cancer are known, the new biography, by Walter Isaacson, offers new insight and details. Friends, family members and physicians spoke to  Isaacson openly about Jobs’s illness and his shifting strategy for managing it. According to Isaacson, Jobs was one of 20 people in the world to have all the genes of his cancer tumor and his normal DNA sequenced. The price tag at the time: $100,000.

But the 630-page biography spans Jobs’s entire life, and also includes previously unknown details about his romantic life, his marriage, his relationship with his sister and his business dealings. Isaacson conducted more than 40 interviews over two years with Jobs, who died on October 5.

A copy of the book was obtained by ‘The New York Times’ before it officially went on sale.

In October 2003, Jobs got the news about his cancer, which was detected by a CT scan.
One of his first calls, according to the book, was to Larry Brilliant, a physician and epidemiologist, who would later become the head of Google’s philanthropic arm. The men went way back, having first met at an ashram in India.

“Do you still believe in God?” Jobs asked.

Brilliant spoke for a while about religion and different paths to belief, and then asked Jobs what was wrong. “I have cancer,” Jobs replied.

Jobs put off surgery for nine months, a fact first reported in 2008 in Fortune magazine.

Friends and family, including his sister, Mona Simpson, urged Jobs to have surgery and chemotherapy, Isaacson writes. But Jobs delayed the medical treatment. His friend and mentor, Andrew Grove, the former head of Intel, who had overcome prostate cancer, told Jobs that diets and acupuncture were not a cure for his 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  Jobs and was frustrated that he could not persuade him to have surgery.

His wife, Laurene Powell, recalled those days, after the cancer diagnosis. “The big thing was that he really was not ready to open his body,” she said. “It’s hard to push someone to do that.” She did try, however, Isaacson writes. “The body exists to serve the spirit,” she argued.

When he did take the path of surgery and science, Jobs did so with passion and curiosity, sparing no expense, pushing the frontiers of new treatments. According to Isaacson, once Jobs decided on the surgery and medical science, he became an expert — studying, guiding and deciding on each treatment. Isaacson said Jobs made the final decision on each new treatment regimen.

The DNA sequencing that Jobs ultimately went through was done by a collaboration of teams at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT. The sequencing, Isaacson writes, allowed doctors to tailor drugs and target them to the defective molecular pathways.

A doctor told Jobs that the pioneering treatments of the kind he was undergoing would soon make most types of cancer a manageable chronic disease. Later, Jobs told Isaacson that he was either going to be one of the first “to outrun a cancer like this” or be among the last “to die from it.”

According to Isaacson, his interviews with Jobs were occasionally punctuated by music listening sessions in Jobs’s living room. During one interview, Jobs played music from his new iPad 2, cycling through the Beatles, a Gregorian chant performed by Benedictine monks, a Bach fugue and “Catch the Wind” by the Scottish musician Donovan.

Jobs’s personal affinity for music, and his friendships with musicians, helped him manoeuvre deals to build the iTunes library and special versions of the iPod. It also moved into his private life at times,  Isaacson writes. After Jobs learned he had cancer, he exacted a promise from Yo-Yo Ma to play at his funeral.

Jobs sometimes entertained business guests at his home. Rupert Murdoch, the conservative head of News Corporation, came twice for dinner. Jobs joked to Isaacson that he had to hide the kitchen knives from his wife, Laurene Powell, because of her liberal views.

New details

The book provides new details on Apple’s business dealings and rivalries. The author recounts Jobs getting into a shouting match with co-founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in 2008, over Google’s development of Android software for smartphones, which would compete with Apple’s iPhone.

Jobs told Isaacson that he regarded Android as a “stolen product,” copying Apple technology.

In romance, Isaacson writes, Jobs fell hard, but often made it hard on the woman in his life. In 1985, he met and fell in love with a computer consultant, Tina Rdese. they lived together on and off for years, and Jobs proposed in 1989. But she declined, telling friends he would “drive her crazy.”

Later, he met Ms Powell, a former Goldman Sachs trader who had enrolled at the Standard business school. They fell in love and she moved in with him. But his behaviour could be maddening. On the first day of 1990, he proposed, and never mentioned it again for months. In September, exasperated, she moved out. The next month, Isaacson writes, he gave her diamond engagement ring, and she moved back in. Eventually, they married.

The book also offers some titbits about Jobs’s legendary attention to detail which according to Isaacson, extended to a luxury yatch that he began designing in 2009. The design is sleek and minimalist with glass walls 40 ft long.

Starting last spring, Jobs met individually or in pairs with people he wanted to see before he died. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, was one of them. And they spent more than three hours together reminiscing. By 2011, Gates though still Microsoft’s chairman, had for years focused most of his time on his huge charitable foundation. Jobs told Isaacson that Gates was happier than he had ever seen him.

They talked about the emotional rewards of family life and having children, and the good fortune to have married wisely, Gates later recalled to Isaacson that the two had laughed that Laurene had kept Jobs “semi-sane” and that Melinda, Gates wife, “kept me semi-sane.”

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