But Jobs delayed surgery for at least nine months, making it “sound to assume that Mr. Jobs’ choice for alternative medicine has eventually led to an unnecessarily early death.

I saw the headline “Steve Jobs Regretted Wasting Time on Alternative Medicine” tweeted many times a few days ago when this article first showed up, but I didn’t have time to click through and read it. I was suspicious, though, that alternative treatments may have been scapegoated. Now that I have read it, I can’t say that for sure, but it still strikes me as sensationalist and oversimplified. (No! Something in Gawker, sensationalist? Something about Steve Jobs?)

The thing is, what comes through to me as I read the Steve Jobs quote, “I didn’t want my body… violated in that way” reads as straight-up fear. It doesn’t read as if he got the news and went “oh, you know what? I want to go with an intense holistic approach and beat this shit” and then went all Gerson therapy on its ass. Instead, it reads as if he got the news and went “Shit. I don’t want to deal with this” and used something between no treatment and alternative treatments as avoidance. There’s a pretty big difference there.

The alternative treatments, in this part of the discussion, are a scapegoat and a distraction. I have known people — LOTS of people — who say they have overcome cancer through diet and lifestyle changes. I met literally dozens of them when Karsten and I went on a holistic-health-oriented cruise. (Don’t take me to task on this: these are THEIR claims, not mine, but I believe them.) And at this moment in my life, I can’t claim to know what I’d do if I were diagnosed with cancer. I do know how I reacted when I was diagnosed with something that could be cancer: I had the recommended surgery. (It turned out not to have been cancer, thankfully, and I ended up with complications, so perhaps an instinct to think twice about surgery would have been prudent.) But that was only a few short years after my dad died from cancer, and the word “cancer” scared the shit out of me. With more years of perspective and more education about the body’s own systems of balance, I know I’d at least be inclined to double-down on my healthy diet and lifestyle and give my body the chance to deal with the abnormality on its own. I don’t know if I’d actually go through with that; I might have surgery first and then follow that with a healing diet.

Either way, what I believe I wouldn’t do is ignore it. And I’m not saying Jobs did, but it kinda comes across like he chose a level of denial over aggressive treatment, whether conventional or alternative. Unless someone knows and can tell me that he began following a very intentional diet and regimen geared at helping the body reverse the growth of the tumor, I don’t think you can lay the blame for Steve Jobs’ death at the feet of alternative medicine for the gap in treatment. I think you have to blame that on fear.

Alternative treatments vs. no treatment: Steve Jobs’ decision to avoid surgery

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