An Apple A Day is Not Working for Steve Jobs

Jan 30, 2011 | Stacy Matson | Celebrity Health
An Apple A Day is Not Working for Steve Jobs

image by: Matthew Yohe

Steve Jobs is known for the strict code of silence he enforces at Apple and he has treated his health issues similarly by revealing little, if anything to the world. Let's hope he wins his battle with pancreatic cancer

As you've probably heard by now Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, has taken another medical leave of absence, this will be his third in just over 6 years. The first leave of absence was in 2004 when Jobs was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. The second leave was in 2009 because he required a liver transplant. Each of these two leaves of absence was given a specific time frame ranging from 1 to 6 months. However, this time, Jobs’ leave is indefinite and neither Apple nor Jobs are providing any details about his condition saying only that he “needs time to focus on his health.”

The fiercely private Jobs, 55, announced his leave via email saying, “At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and will be involved in all major strategic decisions for the company. I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.” 

During Jobs’ leave, Tim Cook, Apple's Chief Operating Officer, will be handling the company's day-to-day operations, just as he did during the two previous absences. In a recent statement to investors Jobs said, “I have great confidence that [Cook] and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

Although Steve Jobs’ presence at Apple is regarded as essential to the company’s long-term success, they’ve shown that in small doses, they can manage without him. And investors should note that Apple stock rose more than 66% during the six months that Cook was in charge and Jobs was on leave. 

Steve Jobs is known for the strict code of silence he enforces at Apple and he’s treated his health issues similarly by revealing little, if anything to the world.  So, I’ve put together the following timeline detailing Jobs’ health history since his cancer diagnosis in 2003.  

October 2003: Jobs is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He tries various alternative therapies for nine months hoping to avoid surgery. Jobs only reveals his diagnosis to Apple’s Board of Directors.  He says that his cancer, an islet-cell neuroendocrine tumor, is rare but also far more curable than other forms of the disease. 

August 1, 2004: Jobs, then 49, undergoes successful surgery to remove the tumor in his pancreas and says he won’t require chemotherapy or radiation. It is announced that Tim Cook will run Apple until Jobs is able to return to work in September. 

June 12, 2005:  For the first time publicly, Jobs discusses his battle with cancer during a commencement speech at Stanford University. He says he was “diagnosed a year earlier and at first my doctors said I wouldn’t live longer than six months. However, the cancer turned out to be treatable with surgery and I’m fine now.” 

June 9, 2008: While introducing the iPhone 3G at Apple’s developer conference, Jobs appears dramatically thinner and frail.  An Apple spokesperson blames a “common bug not the return of cancer” for Jobs’ weight loss. 

July 21, 2008: Amid investor concerns about Jobs’ health an Apple spokesperson says Jobs has no plans to leave the company and that “his health is a private matter”.  

July 23, 2008: The New York Times reports that Jobs has been telling business associates and Apple’s Board of Directors that he underwent a surgical procedure earlier in the year to “address a problem that contributed to his weight loss” and that he remains cancer-free.  

December 16, 2008: Apple says Jobs won’t give his usual speech at the Macworld conference. For the past 11 years - without fail - Jobs has attended the conference to introduce new products.  

January 5, 2009: In a public letter Jobs said his weight loss mystery had been solved and that he will be undergoing a "relatively simple" treatment for a hormone imbalance. Jobs said he “vows to remain CEO during treatment.”

January 14, 2009: Jobs once again relinquishes day-to-day operations to Tim Cook, saying his health problems are “more complex than originally thought” but he will remain involved in major strategic decisions.  

June 23, 2009: Methodist University Hospital confirms that Jobs had a liver transplant and has “an excellent prognosis.” Apple releases a statement, “Steve [Jobs] continues to look forward to returning to Apple at the end of June and there is nothing further to say.” 

June 29, 2009: Apple announces Jobs’ part-time return to work.  

September 9, 2009: Jobs makes his first public appearance since his liver transplant at an Apple event in San Francisco. He tells the crowd that “I am back at Apple and loving every minute of it,” and that he received his new liver from a young man who died in a car crash.  

October 20, 2010: Jobs makes a public appearance to unveil new Apple products and appears healthy. 

January 17, 2011: Jobs, 55, takes another medical leave of absence, telling employees through email that, “I love Apple and hope to be back as soon as I can.”  Tim Cook, once again, is left in charge. 

As of today, more than a week after Jobs announced his leave of absence there is nothing but silence from Apple and speculation from the rest of the world. Could it be that Jobs’ body is rejecting his new liver?  (Statistically though, organ rejection typically occurs soon after the transplant.) Or, another possibility is that the pancreatic cancer has returned somewhere and may have also put his transplanted liver at risk. The latter is more likely in view of Job’s immunocompromised situation which is necessary to prevent organ rejection.  

Let’s all hope that it is neither one of the above possibilities. But, who knows? However, the absence of denial probably equals confirmation of cancer. And, while that may or may not be true I think Jobs deserves to battle his health issues in private. He is not just the creator and head of a $200 billion company he is a man with a family and a lot to work out.  


Stacy Matson, a health enthusiast from Southern California, regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.

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