WASHINGTON, Oct 21 – Apple co-founder Steve Jobs refused early surgery for the pancreatic cancer that eventually took his life, experimenting instead with alternative treatments, according to his biographer.
Walter Isaacson, in an interview with the CBS show “60 Minutes,” excerpts of which were released on Thursday, said Jobs, who died on October 5 at the age of 56, told him he eventually regretted the decision to put off the operation.
Isaacson, whose book, “Steve Jobs,” goes on sale Monday, also said Jobs played down the seriousness of his condition and was receiving cancer treatments in secret while telling people he had been cured.
The biographer said doctors told Jobs in 2003 when the disease was diagnosed that it was “one of these very slow-growing five percent of pancreatic cancers that can actually be cured.”
“But Steve Jobs doesn’t get operated on right away,” he said. “He tries to treat it with diet. He goes to spiritualists. He goes through various ways of doing it macrobiotically and he doesn’t get an operation.
“Soon everybody is telling him: ‘Quit trying to treat it with all these roots and vegetables and things, just get operated on,’” Isaacson said. “But he does it nine months later.
“One assumes it’s too late because by the time they operate on him they notice it has spread to the tissues around the pancreas,” he said.
Asked why Jobs initially turned down an operation, Isaacson quoted the Apple co-founder as saying “I didn’t want my body to be opened. I didn’t want to be violated in that way.”
“He was regretful about it,” Isaacson said. “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 wanted to talk about it, how he regretted it,” he said. “I think he felt he should have been operated on sooner.”
Jobs eventually underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and received a liver transplant in 2009.
The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the book, said Jobs’s decision to put off surgery “distressed his family, friends and physicians.”
The newspaper said when Jobs did decide to have surgery he spared no expense, becoming one of only 20 people in the world at the time to have the genes of his tumor and his normal DNA sequenced at a price tag of $100,000 (73,000 euros).
The book also includes details of the private and romantic life of the notoriously secretive Jobs, as well as his business dealings, the Times said.
According to the book, Jobs proposed to Laurene Powell, a former Goldman Sachs trader, on New Year’s Day 1990 but didn’t mention the proposal again for months.
Exasperated, Powell moved out in September but she moved back in when Jobs offered her a diamond engagement ring.
Jobs also joked to Isaacson that he had to hide the kitchen knives from his liberal wife when they had Rupert Murdoch, the conservative chief executive of News Corp., over for dinner at their home, the Times said.
As for his business rivals, Jobs got into a shouting match in 2008 with the co-founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, over Android, mobile phone software that competes with Apple’s iPhone, according to the Times.
It said Jobs considered Android a “stolen product” copying Apple technology.
According to the book, Jobs began meeting in the spring with people he wanted to see before he died. They included longtime rival Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, who visited Jobs’s home in May for more than three hours.
The Huffington Post, which also obtained a copy of the book, said Jobs told US President Barack Obama last year that he was “headed for a one-term presidency” and offered to help create political ads for the 2012 campaign.
The 60 Minutes interview with Isaacson, who conducted more than 40 interviews with Jobs, the technology visionary behind the Macintosh computer, the iPod, the iPhone and iPad, is to air on Sunday.
Isaacson’s 656-page book is being published by Simon & Schuster.
Isaacson, chief executive of the Aspen Institute think-tank, has also penned biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Henry Kissinger.