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  • Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, died on October 5 from complications of pancreatic cancer. While Jobs seems to have received the best care possible, even some conventional oncologists question the decision to perform a liver transplant, stating that this procedure and the subsequent immuno-suppressant anti-rejection drugs he had to take was, perhaps, a fatal mistake.
  • Steve's premature passing is a profound tragedy, but if we take to heart some of the wisdom he lived his life by, we may be able to improve our own lives.
  • Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez is an internationally known expert on the natural treatment of pancreatic cancer was interviewed for his take on the treatment Steve received and an attempt to put it proper context.
 

A Tragic Decision That May Have Cost Steve Jobs His Life?

October 09, 2011 | 573,263 views
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By Dr. Mercola

Steve Jobs died at 56 years old last week from complications of pancreatic cancer. Steve was the charismatic pioneer and innovative co-founder of Apple who transformed personal use of technology as well as entire industries with products such as the iPod, iPad, iPhone, Macintosh computer and the iTunes music store.

Steve was only 21 when he started Apple--officially formed on April Fool's Day, 1976. He was forced out in 1985 but returned 15 years ago and plucked Apple from near-bankruptcy, and in August of this year turned it into the most valuable company in the world  passing Exxon.

Jeffery Kluger from Time Magazine had a great comment on the impact he made on the culture.

"But it's also fair to argue that Jobs was in some ways different from other captains of industry. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Bill Gates changed the world too - Gates more than all of them, perhaps, with his second chapter as the world's greatest philanthropist - and yet the garment rending and candle lighting that has followed Jobs' death suggests a passion that none of the others stir up.

Perhaps it's that Gates and the rest that invented what were essentially just products - remarkable things that transformed the way we lived, but merchandise all the same. Jobs' inventions got inside not just our lives but also our heads and - improbably - our hearts. That, of course, is the way it is with living things."

What Type of Person Was Steve Jobs?

Much has been said about Steve's brilliance in technology but there has not been much commentary about him as a person.  The LA Times has an exceptional article that provides a great view into Steve's character. Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who was the director of Google's philanthropic arm Google.org, knew Steve Jobs for 35 years. He recalled first meeting Jobs when Jobs was 19, and he was in India working to eradicate smallpox.

"Jobs shielded himself and his family from the media, and his friends respected his privacy. But over the summer, Jobs told Brilliant that he would be "happy to have people talk about him," Jobs had dropped out of college and traveled to India to meet Brilliant's guru, Neem Karoli Baba. Baba died before Jobs reached the Kainchi Ashram with a Reed College friend –- and later, Apple's first employee -- Daniel Kottke.

"We met when he, like all of us, were spiritual seekers in India. It was that quality in him that people feel even though these are physical instruments, iPhones, iPods, iPads. People can feel that he was continuing that quest," Brilliant said. "He had this idea back in the 1970s, that cliché of giving power to the people. He really believed it. When he made the first Apple II, he thought he was giving power to the people by putting a computer on everyone's desk so they would not have to be dependent on the priesthood with mainframes.

This was giving power to the people in a very real way, not a theoretical way. What he has done is democratize access to information and access to beauty."

Because his private life was so little known, few outside of Jobs' inner circle experienced the caring side of Jobs, Brilliant said. In 2006 when Brilliant joined Google, both his wife and son were diagnosed with cancer. Brilliant was distraught. He says Jobs supported him by creating spreadsheets that ranked cancer surgeons based on a number of criteria including post-surgery infection rate, follow-up care and approval ratings.

"That's the part that people couldn't possibly know -- the love and the care that he put into everything he did. He just loved his family, Laurene (Powell) and the kids. He loved them more than anyone could articulate. And he loved Apple," Brilliant said.

"The defining character of Steve Jobs isn't his genius, it isn't his talent, it isn't his success. It's his love. That's why crowds came to see him. You could feel that. It sounds ridiculous to talk about love when you are making a gadget. But Steve loved his work, he loved the products he produced, and it was palpable. He communicated that love through bits of steel and plastic."

Classic Steve Jobs Quotes that Can Help You Live Your Life Better

Steve's premature passing was clearly a profound tragedy but we can use it to take to heart some of the wisdom he lived his life by and possibly improve our own life.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from Steve that truly hit home as to some of the central reasons why we are on this planet. Remember he was born out of wedlock, put up for adoption, dropped out of college, fired from the company he founded, and still, he changed the world.

What's your excuse?

 "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been ‘No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

As a testimony to Steve's greatness, there were many creative memes that people came up with. If you cared for Steve or Apple you will likely appreciate viewing these.

What Did Steve Jobs Die From?

Pancreatic cancer is one of the faster spreading cancers; only about 4 percent of patients can expect to survive five years after their diagnosis. Each year, about 44,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S., and 37,000 people die of the disease. Although cancer of the pancreas has a terrible prognosis--half of all patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer die within 10 months of the diagnosis; half of those in whom it has metastasized die within six months--cancer in the pancreas is not necessarily a death sentence.

The pancreas contains two types of glands: exocrine glands that produce enzymes that break down fats and proteins, and endocrine glands that make hormones like insulin that regulate sugar in the blood. Jobs died of tumors originating in the endocrine glands, which are among the rarer forms of pancreatic cancer. Unlike pancreatic cancer, with neuroendocrine cancer, if you catch it early, there is a real potential for cure. His cancer was detected during an abdominal scan in October 2003, as Fortune magazine reported in a 2008 cover story.

It is widely believed in conventional medicine that surgery can lead to long-term survival.  Despite the expert consensus on the value of surgery, Jobs did not elect it right away. He reportedly spent nine months on "alternative therapies," including what Fortune called "a special diet."

But when a scan showed that the original tumor had grown, he finally had it removed on July 31, 2004, at Stanford University Medical Clinic. He underwent an operation called a modified Whipple procedure, or a pancreatoduodenectomy, which removes the right side of the pancreas, the gallbladder, and parts of the stomach, bile duct, and small intestine, which was a strong suggestion that his cancer had spread beyond the pancreas.

Within five years, it was clear that Jobs was not cured. In April of 2009 Jobs flew to Switzerland and underwent an experimental procedure called peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). It involves delivering radiation to tumor cells by attaching one of two radioactive isotopes to a drug that mimics somatostatin, the hormone that regulates the entire endocrine system and the secretion of other hormones.

This treatment apparently failed, as shortly after that he had a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis.  This is likely because the cancer had spread from the pancreas to his liver. Liver transplants are a well-established treatment for tumors that originate in that organ BUT it is very uncommon to remove the liver for metastatic cancer.

This is not routinely done for two primary reasons. The first is that it in no way, shape, or form addresses the original cancer, and it can easily spread to the new liver. But more importantly, he had to be placed on large doses of drugs to suppress his immune system so he would not reject his new liver. Tragically this is the very system your body uses to help control cancers.  The liver has enormous regenerative capacity, and if they only removed the portion of his liver that contained the malignant cells, he would not have to take those dangerous anti-rejection drugs.

Conventional cancer experts disagree with the approach that was taken for Steve.

 " In contrast, with a liver transplant "the overall costs and complications ... override its benefits, especially when compared with partial [removal of the liver]." Indeed, liver transplants for metastatic cancer "have been largely abandoned," says Columbia's Chabot, because the immune-suppressing, anti-rejection drugs "lead to such a high recurrence rate.

Interestingly, it appears Steve was not given any chemotherapy or radiation treatments after his liver transplant, which undoubtedly contributed to his living over seven years after his surgery.

Was there Another Option for Steve's Cancer?

I am certainly not an expert in the treatment of cancer but it seems that Steve got the best cancer care possible. He avoided all treatments for nine months before electing to have a surgical intervention that frequently is curative for this type of cancer. It appears he also was able to avoid chemotherapy and radiation. Of course, the question remains on how he got the original cancer. It is impossible to know for sure as there are so many variables.

However, the biggest issue may have been the decision to have a liver transplant and go on the anti-rejection drugs. Conventional oncologists are stating that was, perhaps, a mistake.

I thought it would be helpful to interview an expert in the natural treatment of cancer on this so I contacted Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, who is widely known for his work with pancreatic cancer. I previously interviewed Dr. Gonzalez about his remarkable cancer program, in which he discussed the details of his history and the therapeutic approaches he employs-with a rate of success that is entirely unheard of in conventional medicine, I might add.

As explained in our first interview, Dr. Gonzalez has been involved in the natural treatment of cancer for over 25 years, and offers really innovative therapies for this devastating disease. He's known internationally for his expertise on pancreatic cancer specifically, but his therapies have wider applications and can be applied to all forms of cancer.

Many of his pancreatic cancer patients are still alive and well today, having survived up to 20 years... In conventional medicine, this is simply unheard of. Using the best conventional therapies we have, the typical survival rate for a pancreatic cancer patient is about 12-18 months.

To summarize Dr. Gonzalez' program, it consists of three basic components:

  1. Individualized diet based on nutritional (metabolic) typing
  2. Individualized supplement program, which includes vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and pancreatic enzymes
  3. Detoxification, which includes coffee enemas and colon cleanses

To review the details of his program, please see our previous interview.

Steve Jobs, Another Victim of Pancreatic Cancer

There are two basic types of pancreatic cancer. The most aggressive form is adenocarcinoma, which develops in the cells that produce pancreatic enzymes (these enzymes help digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and eliminate toxins from your body).

"About 95 percent of pancreatic cancers develop in the enzyme-producing cells that synthesize the main digestive enzymes of the intestinal tract," Dr. Gonzalez explains. "About five percent are developed in the endocrine component of the pancreas. The pancreas not only produces enzymes, but also produces hormones like insulin and glucagon. Cancer can develop in the insulin or other hormone-producing cells, but it's much less common. They tend to be a little less aggressive – the average survival for carcinoma of the enzyme-producing cells is probably three to six months."

Steve Jobs had this latter version of pancreatic cancer; islet cell carcinoma, the technical term for cancer of the hormone producing cells of the pancreas.

"He didn't have the most aggressive form," Dr. Gonzalez says. "... [H]e's had it for many years. He had a liver transplant in Memphis about two years ago. Again, he was very secretive about what was going on... [I]t must have meant he had a metastasis in the liver. First, he had to be treated with immunosuppressants. Whenever you have a transplanted organ, your body will tend to reject it, so you have to suppress your immune system. That's not good when you have a history of cancer, because immunosuppression can stimulate cancer growth since you're suppressing your own immune ability to fight cancer."

It appears Steve Jobs did everything he could, conventionally and alternatively to stay alive. As Dr. Gonzalez states, money certainly wasn't a limiting factor in his treatment.

"A procedure like that can run several hundred thousand dollars, at least. So my assumption, having treated pancreatic cancer for over two decades, he probably had metastasis in the liver, and it was a somewhat desperate attempt to try to keep it under control, although it would be ultimately futile. There's always the possibility of some kind of liver failure for reasons other than cancer that might have led him to a liver transplant, such as a medication reaction, hepatitis C from transfusion or something. But again, the reasons have never been publicly released, so we don't know. But most likely, he had metastasis in the liver."

Many Cancer Patients Shun Natural Cancer Treatment Options

According to Dr. Gonzalez, Jobs was seeing an acupuncturist who was very anxious for him to contact Dr. Gonzalez for advice. Dr. Gonzalez has been successfully treating cancer patients for over two decades.

"One of my great patients is a fellow from Michigan who had islet cell carcinoma that, at the time of diagnosis in 1995, had already metastasized to his liver. He went to the Mayo clinic, where everything was confirmed; he had CAT scans and biopsies... To the Mayo clinic's credit... if they know that a therapy isn't going to be useful, they don't promote it, whereas a lot of oncologists will promote therapies that are worthless.

The Mayo clinic told him chemo wouldn't do anything for him... There was really nothing they could do. He started with me in 1995, shortly after his diagnosis. He's alive and well now, 16 years later. CAT scans beginning around 2000 showed total resolution of his big tumors. He had a huge tumor in the pancreas -- it must have been around 6 centimeters. And then he had a big tumor, right under the liver. All these are gone."

Celebrity Patients and 'Star' Oncologists

Jobs is not the only celebrity who did everything he could through the conventional paradigm, which tragically has an abysmal success rate.

"Michael Landon actually did consult with me," Dr. Gonzalez says, "but he never did the therapy. His press agent, Harry Flynn, became a very good friend. Harry and I remain friends to this day, and this goes back to 20 years ago. As soon as a successful celebrity gets cancer, the conventional predators come out of the woodwork-and they say that alternative doctors are sitting there like predators, trying to lure unsuspecting cancer patients into their lairs. You know, I've been in the alternative world for a long time, and I've come out of this very conventional research. But I don't see a whole of that in the alternative world.

What I do see is conventional doctors doing exactly what they criticize in alternative doctors. Landon was treated by an "eminent oncologist" from Cedars-Sinai, who held a press conference. The first thing conventional doctors do when they get a celebrity is to hold a press conference. To me it's almost like narcissism, just to show how important they are with all these celebrities coming to them. This is even if they know they can't do anything. He gave Landon an experimental chemo, but he was dead in three months."

As Dr. Gonzalez points out, conventional doctors can fail miserably and still be considered heroes. Alternative doctors, even the most successful ones, are still looked upon with great suspicion if not disdain. Upon Landon's death, his oncologist held another press conference, and Landon's widow was impressed with how "hard" his doctor had worked to treat her dying husband.

"You see, when a conventional oncologist loses a celebrity patient, they portray him as a hero fighting this terrible disease against the enormous odds; working late into the night trying to keep the celebrity alive," Dr. Gonzalez says. "But when an alternative practitioner loses a patient, they consider him a sleazy quack getting money from unsuspecting cancer victims.

... The same thing was true, more recently, with Patrick Swayze. He had a very aggressive pancreatic cancer. Stanford oncologists doing his treatment held press conferences routinely... filled with this kind of joyful optimism that "they're going to help." He was gone in 18 months. Friends of his are actually patients of mine, but he absolutely had no interest in alternative medicine. He was very conventional – used "the best doctors" from Stanford."

Misplaced Blame-The Case of Steve McQueen and Dr. Kelley

Dr. Gonzalez' mentor, Dr. Kelley (who developed the cancer program Dr. Gonzalez now uses), treated Steve McQueen. McQueen ultimately died, although he lasted almost a year under Dr. Kelley's care.

"He was terminal when he came to Dr. Kelley," Dr. Gonzalez says. "He had failed radiation, failed immunotherapy. He had been misdiagnosed for a year. The reason he ended up with Stage 4 mesothelioma is because he was misdiagnosed by his fancy conventional doctors in Southern California.

Then they gave him radiation – there's not a study in the history of the world showing that radiation helps in mesothelioma; they gave it anyway. Then they gave him immunotherapy. There's not a study in the history of the world saying that immunotherapy helps in mesothelioma. They did it anyway. Then he was dying and he went to see Kelley. He died, and Kelley got all the blame-not the doctors who misdiagnosed him! In fact when you read the newspaper articles, there are still articles about how Dr. Kelley killed McQueen.

No, cancer killed McQueen.

You see, an oncologist at Sloan-Kettering can do a bone marrow transplant on celebrity patients. They die, and he's written up like a hero... Kelley tries to help after conventional doctors failed miserably and misdiagnosed him, and McQueen lived longer than he should. (He was a half-compliant patient – he continued to smoke, drink, and eat ice cream.) I told Kelley when I first met him, "The biggest mistake you've made with McQueen is you took him as a patient. You should have told him to hit the trail."

Dr. Kelley is now dead. But 30 years later, he still gets blamed for McQueen's death. About two or three years ago, there was an Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal attacking unconventional cancer therapy. They talked about McQueen, and how Kelley killed him. ... Conventional oncologists lose patients every day, and no one says they're murdering anybody. Instead they're considered heroes for trying so hard."

As Dr. Gonzalez says, it's not even a double standard; it's like being in an alternative Universe. If you're a conventional oncologist, you can do no wrong, you're lauded as a hero despite your failures, and you make a lot of money making them. Meanwhile, alternative practitioners may succeed again and again, and still be considered dangerous quacks. This is a mindset that has absolutely nothing to do with scientific validity, objectivity, or evaluation of data. It really falls into a category more reminiscent of religious fervor.

Conventional Medicine as a Religion

So, how did we get to this point? Why does this situation exist when it's so illogical?

"Conventional academic medicine is the last religion left in America," Dr. Gonzalez says.

"So the way you have to look at medicine is not as a scientific profession, but rather a religious profession... It has its irrational beliefs. It has its own special language. It has its tools, it has its rituals. ... The fact that they don't make us better is ignored. Landon died, Patrick Swayze died, Linda McCartney died; I could list 20 celebrities who are dead because they went the conventional route. Why didn't they do my therapy?

Because I don't have a temple. I don't even own a white coat... Michael Landon picked that up right away. In fact, his press agent, Harry Flynn, wanted him to come and see me... [But] one of Landon's comments about me was that I "wasn't fancy enough." So he went to the priesthood. He went to Cedars-Sinai."

Meanwhile, Dr. Gonzalez has patients who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the same time as Michael Landon, who are still alive today. His oldest survivor began the program in 1988.

"We have multiple patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer who have done well," Dr. Gonzalez says. "It's interesting: I do have very world-renowned celebrities as patients. But no one knows who they are; no one knows they have cancer. The reason for that is because they didn't die, and we don't hold press conferences. They're doing their program and doing well with their lives.

We tell our patients: don't make cancer your life. Move on with your life. So they're back acting in movies, doing talk shows and that kind of stuff. No one knows they even had cancer. And that's fine with me. Some of them keep it secret because of the career thing, and they don't want the publicity. I understand that. So my successful patients who are celebrities, nobody knows who they are because they got well and they're just doing their job."

Now, it's important to stress that this is not a conspiracy.

The physicians who promote the conventional approach do so because they truly believe it's the right thing to do; the only thing that has any chance of working. Healing cancer with foods and coffee enemas seems ludicrous when compared to the most advanced drug cocktails. If the most potent toxins can't kill the cancer, how in the world could you get rid of the cancer with nutrients? They've bought the conventional paradigm hook line and sinker, and they promote it not just for their patients, but for themselves and their families as well. And they suffer the same consequences as their patients.

"They grow up with the bias that drugs are the way to go. It's how they're trained; it's imprinted in their brain in medical school. It's like mind control – it's what they believe. They just can't believe anything else. They go to their graves believing it – often to their discredit, unfortunately.

Many conventional physicians are also in just as poor a health as their patients. However, there are signs that the tide is slowly about to shift.

"We get calls from doctors now, asking us about nutrition and what supplements they should take," Dr. Gonzalez says. "There's been a big change in the last few years. Fifteen years ago it didn't happen, and now it's starting to happen."

For More Information

For more information about Dr. Gonzalez and his practice, see www.dr-gonzalez.com.

He's also working on a series of books, two of which have already been published and received five-star reviews: The Trophoblast and the Origins of Cancer, and One Man Alone: An Investigation of Nutrition, Cancer, and William Donald Kelley. Three others are in the works, one of which will contain 100 of Dr. Gonzalez' case reports of patients with advanced cancer who successfully recovered on his program.

Thankfully, Dr. Gonzalez is still on the front lines and actively engaged in helping people by coaching them with natural alternatives instead of toxic drugs and radiation. I would personally not hesitate to recommend him to a family member or a friend diagnosed with cancer. His office is in Manhattan, where he can be reached at (212) 213-3337. His website, www.dr-gonzalez.com also contains information on how to become a patient, and everything a potential patient needs to know.

Another source for more information about alternative cancer treatments in general is Suzanne Somers' book, Knockout. She reviews Dr. Gonzalez' work in one chapter, and Dr. Gonzalez personally recommends the book as a well-researched resource for anyone interested in getting more information.

"For cancer, specifically, I think Suzanne did a good job," Dr. Gonzalez says. "She really worked hard to put together resources that she thought legitimate and would be helpful for patients... So that's a good place to start in terms of general recommendations."

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