October 21, 2011, 7:34 AM — The same bloody minded independence that let Steve Jobs stick to his own principles even when it meant swimming against the tide of an entire industry may, in the end, have killed him, according to interviews surfacing yesterday and this morning with the author of Jobs' authorized biography.
Jobs' most recent bout with cancer was diagnosed as a rare form of prostate cancer that is rarely fatal if it is caught in time because it grows so slowly and is susceptible to the combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy that is the current standard treatment, according to Walter Isaacson, who interviewed Jobs dozens of times for a biography of Jobs will hit bookstores Oct. 24.
Despite being told by a phalanx of doctors that his slow-growing cancer would respond well to treatment and that the condition was far from a death sentence, Jobs ignored the treatments his doctors recommended to focus on a range of alternative – though ultimately unsuccessful – series of treatments.
"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 '60 Minutes' interview, as reported by Reuters.
Jobs, Isaacson said, didn't want his body violated by the surgery or abused by chemo or radio therapy and had managed to convince himself alternatives to the techniques of traditional Western medicine would be just as effective for him.
Carefully designed, well-regarded studies do show glimmers of hope of some real benefits from "alternative" approaches to medicine – including acupuncture, aromatherapy , homeopathy and other techniques more accurately called "therapy" than "treatment."
Jobs knew the difference between the two and was conscious that he was increasing his own risk by delaying treatment, Isaacson said.
Taking a calculated risk, using the wrong formula
He delayed treatment anyway, for nine months, during which his cancer advanced from a relatively weak threat to his life to an unavoidable fate.
"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," Isaacson said. "We talked about this a lot."