I’m sure you remember my elevator speech, because it wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about it: “I was diagnosed in October with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer—the same type Steve Jobs has.” The rest is not important.
The day I was diagnosed, the doctors mentioned, as a way to explain and ground and maybe make us feel a little better about what they were saying, that I had the same type of tumors as Steve Jobs. I eschewed any internet reading about neuroendocrine tumors early on, but I remember gingerly skimming some articles about Steve Jobs after that appointment. There are only a couple thousand cases of pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer in the U.S. and he and I were two. I knew next to nothing about Steve Jobs outside of his diagnosis and his obvious contributions to Apple and technology, but I felt a connection to him nonetheless.
Since then, he’s stayed in the back of my mind. He was an example to look up to: Steve Jobs can run a company and I can’t even handle finishing this stupid essay? He was a way to ground all the medical talk in someone real: It’s actually the same type of cancer as Steve Jobs. And perhaps most importantly, until yesterday afternoon, he was an example of someone everyone knew who had my type of cancer–and was living. And running a company: The doctors haven’t said much about my prognosis, but Steve Jobs is still around so it can’t be too bad.
I know that I can’t accurately make parallels between his condition and mine. There is so little information out there about his specific treatments that I can only make guesses, based on my knowledge and research, about why certain procedures were done and what could have possibly been happening with his health leading up til the end. Half the articles list his cause of death as pancreatic cancer, anyway, which is not true.
Still, he was diagnosed in 2004, seven years ago. I don’t like to think of my life as having an early endpoint. But it’s hard not to think about that when my example of success has died.
That is just too big to contemplate now. Or maybe ever. What can I do but just live? And maybe accomplish even a fraction of what Steve Jobs has in his too-short life?
rest in peace