The problem I have with the attached article is the speculation involved by these cancer experts. To say that Mr. Jobs could still be alive had he had his surgery sooner–to me–is not fair to Mr. Jobs. He could be just as dead by being hit by a Mack truck, as dying of Cancer. To alleviate some of the speculation going on as to Mr. Jobs’ death, and whether or not he “could still be alive” if he’d made different decisions, I give you my story:
As a cancer survivor myself, one thing that people who have never had such a disease need to realize is that it truly is one of the most terrifying things to be told. It is life changing. Literally.
I was diagnosed with cancer 7 years ago today. I was informed by my primary doctor while I was sitting in my car, in the parking lot of a gas station. On my lunch break.
Not very “compassionate”, but then that is one reason I liked my doctor so much; she told it to me straight, with no chaser.
A few days later, while sitting in a chair of my new gynecological oncologist’s office, I was told the results of several tests I had endured–one such test so painful my mom had to literally crawl on the examination table to hold me down, while I nearly screamed myself hoarse. I had Stage IIB Cervical Cancer. There was a very real chance it had spread to my uterus and my lymph-nodes. I would need to have a radical hysterectomy at the soonest possible time it could be scheduled…at the age of 32.
Once I heard this news, I promptly stood up, said “thanks, but no thanks”, and literally walked out of the doctor’s office. Quickly followed by my mom.
I have never seen my mom as pissed off as that moment in the hallway, when I told her that I was not going to have the surgery that could save my life. Because I was petrified.
She didn’t care.
She gave me some “tough love” and told me to think of my son, whom at the time was 9.
I yelled back at her (which I never do) that I just didn’t give a shit. That no one was going to cut me open and rip parts of me out of my body, and throw them into a medical waste bin, after further testing. That there was no way in hell I was going to allow for such a scarring procedure to be done to me, for something as stupid as Cancer.
I was adamant in my refusal to go through with such a treatment, because of my fear of the unknown.
Fears I had such as: “Who would possibly want to be in a relationship with me (I was single at the time), upon seeing such scarring?” or “What man would possibly have the desire to love me, if I could not bear his children?” or “What would my friends think when they found out that I would now be an “it”, instead of a whole woman?” or “Who would still see me, as me, if I allowed such a violation of myself to take place?”
These were the thoughts going through my head in that hallway.
As this was my initial reaction, I can fully understand Mr. Jobs’ hesitation to allow the same for himself. Cancer is not an easy diagnosis to digest, much less to accept–that you may die from something that has taken hold of your body for unknown reasons, and the only possible cure is to be cut open like a piece of meat at the butcher shop. That your loved ones may see you differently, or treat you differently, simply because you have a disease that must be forcibly removed, or you will die.
Mom said that she would make damn sure that such a procedure would happen, and that I had better start thinking of my future, or I’d never reach it, because I’d be dead.
In looking at her face, and seeing her own fear of my death in her eyes, and thinking about what my death would do to my son, I realized she was right: I had to put my son’s future before my fears. That if I didn’t do what was suggested, I’d have no need to ever worry about what type of relationships I may have in the future with men or friends or family…I would have no future, so it wouldn’t even matter. I’d be too busy taking a dirt nap.
I walked back in and scheduled the surgery for the following January. I am sure that some form of these very thoughts must have been going through Mr. Jobs’ mind after his initial diagnosis, so I can understand his reluctance to jump in with both feet, and proceed. However, though he was hesitant, he did eventually get the surgery he needed, and it did save his life. So to imply if only he’d made his decision “earlier” is, again, not a fair assumption to be making, especially if you were not there beside him, to assist him with making the types of decisions he had to make.
I know in my bones that if my mom had not put her foot down, I’d not be writing to you now, and my son would be without his mother. Just as I know my mom was right…that my son is more important to me than any of those other fears I may have held…Fears that have been proven unjust, but still…I had them. Just as I’m sure most Cancer patients have had them. Cancer fucks with your mind, not just your body, and people must understand that, as they read this article given by the “experts”.
Just as I am sure that Mr. Jobs may have had similar thoughts about his own personal demons, I am also sure he was thankful that he made the same decision–to have his own surgery–and was grateful he was able to live for the few years he did, after his own experience.
When reading this article it must be understood why Mr. Jobs “could still be alive” is speculative, for even when a Cancer patient has surgery, depending on their type of Cancer there is still a chance it can return. Even after treatment. As, unfortunately, it appears happened in his case, if the final photographs of Mr. Jobs floating around the Internet are anything to go by.
The terrifying thing is that having ANY FORM of Cancer, and the aftereffects of such, is very difficult for a person to deal with, even when we (patients) have a strong and supportive family, and network of friends…because we must look at ourselves in the mirror and face our own mortality. Something that our loved ones may find it difficult to understand. Especially as everyone does eventually die. But we, the Cancer patients of the world, wish to die like everyone else, on our own damn terms…not from some stupid malfunction of our cells.
We must face the real fact that we can die from what is happening to our bodies, through no fault of our own. Even as we do whatever it takes to prevent that very death.
The decisions that must be made are especially difficult when there are children involved…children whom we know will have to live with whatever the outcome of our decision may be.
At the time of my diagnosis, I was given a fifteen percent chance of surviving the following five years after my surgery. I chose to grasp this fifteen percent of survival with every fiber of my being, instead of allowing for the thought of an eighty-five percent chance of death to get into my psyche. I had to. I had to simply state to myself, every day, that Cancer was not going to beat me. That I was going to get through it, as I’d gotten through every other shitty thing I’d been through in my life before my diagnosis. With perseverance, strength, and an attitude to match. I was not going to just give up, and let Cancer take me away from my life. I would give it the bloody fighting death match It desired.
Such a percentage of survival (I have no idea the number) may have assisted Mr. Jobs with his final decision to have surgery, as would such grit that I know he must have carried within himself, if his history is anything to judge by, but again…that’s just speculative thinking. I don’t know, I wasn’t there.
Yet, to be told you need such invasive treatment to save your life, and that you also could still die within a certain time frame afterward, was very hard on me, as I am sure it would have been for Mr. Jobs. This very realization could be what spurred Mr. Jobs to work, work, work on the products he wanted to bring to his consumers during the time he had left; again speculation, but I’ve been there, too.
Six days after I went through my procedure, while still recovering in the hospital, I was told that I had some remaining cancerous cells, and would have to go through radiation therapy in a couple of months. Once it was time, and for thirty days straight thereafter, (minus weekends) I drove 54 miles between my home, my office and my radiologist for this therapy–which threw my body into instant menopause. As a way to deal with all of these things, I became such a workaholic between April and December of 2005, that I ended up having a breakdown one year to the day of having the radical hysterectomy…on January 10, 2006.
Through blood testing at the ER, where I arrived an uncontrollable, emotional mess (I literally could not stop crying over the course of several hours, and had developed a stutter) the doctor figured out that I had a chemical imbalance…in fact, I was told that I had almost zero Potassium in my body, and would have to submit to even more tests. I was diagnosed as suffering from an anxiety disorder, as well as depression, caused by the experiences I had been through over the previous year, as well as the additional chemical imbalance in my system, most likely stemming from radiation therapy, and instant menopause.
I was given anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication, and three months later I was “re-balanced”, and off the meds. Though I do still stutter to this day when stressed, anxious or overly-tired, and I am also still prone to high anxiety, I work to control these aftereffects through positive thinking, and by lessening the stress in my surroundings. Sounds weird, but it works for me.
In December of 2006 I was told that Cancer had returned in one of my lymph nodes. I had to have surgery again, and it was successful. I’ve been completely Cancer free for almost six years. I surpassed my five year “survival period”, and I’m not looking back. While at first I could scarcely tolerate the sight of myself without clothes in a mirror, I now view my scars as having been received while fighting a great battle…and I’m damn proud of them.
Mr Jobs was not as fortunate in his battle, and to read about these “experts” speculation is disturbing to me, if only because I think Mr. Jobs made all of his decisions the best way he knew how, and I am sure that he was very thankful for the time he was given.
To imply that he may have made the wrong decision is not fair, as he made what he thought were the correct decisions for him, and his family. It is also a bit selfish. Are such speculations being made because of the devastating loss of the genius innovator he was, or simply because of what his medical condition had been? I do not recall such speculation taking place when Mr. Swayze died, and his death was equally as sad, and from the same type of Cancer–Pancreatic. Mr. Jobs lived for years after going through Cancer treatments…not to forget his liver transplant, which must have also been a difficult battle to pull through. Are we, as members of this society, to be so ungrateful as a culture for what he was able to give us during those years, by being so selfish now; speculating that if he had made “different decisions” he may still be alive?
Unless you have gone through a similar hell that we have been through, you cannot possibly understand how lucky we (his consumers) are that he was able to provide to us the gadgets we all covet from Apple. We should stop with the speculation as to whether or not he’d still be alive today, and be thankful for the time he was here, and benefited most of society with his talents. We should be sending out condolences to his family, and his friends, and his co-workers, instead of discussing what “could have been” if he had simply made alternate decisions.
We need to let him rest in peace, and instead assist everyone he left behind get through this difficult time, because after the fight he fought–and won–no matter how briefly; he certainly deserves it, as do they. Instead of speculating about the possible decisions made by Mr. Jobs, let us find a way to cure this dreaded disease–in all of its forms–and prevent it from prematurely taking any more of humanity.
The Article Referenced: