Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs -- Which Legacy?

Screenshot from
Steve Jobs passed away yesterday, 10/5/2011, after a long battle with cancer.

Rest In Peace.

I'm appreciative of the technology he brought to the everyday-consumer and the amazing innovations he and his teams delivered to a market they helped create. Yes, my first exposure to a "personal computer" was dot-matrix programming on a Mac. Hellooo green dots on a black screen. It was genius to put Macs in every school to set a foundation of respect and desire for a brand. Yes, I rushed to acquire that newfangled thing called an iPod. No, I'm not a devotee. The only "iAnything" I own is that classic iPod.

I'm more impressed by the way he dealt with his cancer. Naturally, all I know is what's in the public domain. Well, that, and what my mother has gone through battling two different types of cancer -- first breast cancer then leukemia. I know Steve Jobs had neither of those. He suffered from pancreatic cancer. Yes, every cancer treatment is unique to the patient.  What's not unique?


It ravages the body. The more aggressive the treatment, the more the side-effects become their own disease.  Your body rebels against you. Your mind does too. Every gotten queasy and just "shook it off" "plowed through" "ignored it"? Cancer patients don't get to do that. All too often "queasy" leads to collapse. Steve Jobs couldn't hide the side-effect that made him emaciated. My mother couldn't hide the exact opposite. She could gain fifteen pounds in a day, and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it. That's sort of stuff one expects to see from a cancer patient. What very few understand is the a nasty little phenomenon that attacks the mind.


At its worst, imagine a manic-depressive with dementia, paranoia, and vivid delusions. Before the leukemia, my mother was a volunteer-extraordinaire for both the Girl Scouts and the Red Cross. She trained the trainers on how to save lives. Once the leukemia compromised her immune system, the chemotherapy deprived her of a reliably functioning body. The biggest crushing blow came when her brain went on the fritz.  Now, imagine a billion-dollar visionary at the helm of a tech company teetering on the edge of market boom or bust. Recall that Steve Jobs was diagnosed in 2002. He received a liver transplant in 2009. He stepped down from the helm of Apple -- for the final time -- August 24, 2011.

I don't know what went on behind the scenes at Apple. I do know the new technology with which he is credited would never have launched without a stellar team making it happen. The same can be said for those overseeing his health and well-being. My heart goes out to the people who shared the difficult times, the quiet moments, and the small everyday accomplishments healthy folk take for granted. 

I'm lucky. My mother's cancers are in remission. The heinous chemical side-effects are working their way out of her system -- some faster than others. She's coping with the emotional wreckage -- most days.

For a man who zealously guarded his public image, I absolutely understand and appreciate why the public will never know the extent to which his illness affected his technology legacy. I rather imagine he'd like to be remembered for his successes and not his illnesses. So, with full respect for all he did for the public... 

Dear Steve, thanks for the tech.


  1. Hugs to your mom and to you - that's a terrible thing I hope I never have to confront.

  2. Thanks, Laura. I'd have to say a patient's determination to hold on to a positive outlook is critical to remission. Maybe product milestones were the things that got Steve Jobs out of bed in the morning with a smile?