Think Different.

By: Lauren Thaler  |  Date: October 6th, 2011  |  Category: Cancer Chaos, Other Things That Make Me Tick  |  Comments: 6 comments »

I’m in New York for Advertising Week, which has a heavy slant toward all things digital, mobile and social, so you can imagine how the tenure of this weeklong conference changed after the news of Steve Jobs’ death. Every panelist, presenter and moderator had something to say about his legacy, the empire he built and the world he changed.

At a time like this I can’t help but think about my own experiences with the products that Steve Jobs brought into the world. When I was in eighth grade, I remember thinking my big, blue iMac was the coolest thing since slap bracelets had been invented. I remember buying my first iPod at Best Buy, taking the metro home and subsequently bursting into tears when I realized I had left my brand new iPod on the metro. I remember when I purchased my first iPhone and was totally intimidated by its revolutionary design — How could a smart phone only have one button?

Some have said that Jobs was the Thomas Edison of the 21st century, and I don’t believe they are too far off.

There is a ton of coverage right now about his company, career and accomplishments. Steve Jobs didn’t just raise the bar; he created an entirely new measuring stick for the future of tech innovation.

And even though we knew this day would come, as his health has been a constant concern for Wall Street and the millions of Apple fans everywhere, my jaw dropped when I read the New York Times alert on my iPhone yesterday. No matter how sick someone is, no matter how rare the disease is, death always feels like an unwarranted surprise.

And then the colossal significance of Jobs’ death hit me. Our world – not just the technical and digital layers of our lives, but our interpersonal orbits and the way we relate to each other – has lost Jobs, who fundamentally built those layers and orbits for pretty much the entirety of my almost 30 year old life. Our world will never reap the benefits of his dreams and brainstorms again. The person, who always knew what we wanted before we wanted it, is dead.

And across TV, online news sources and social networks, everyone is in agreement. I’m not saying anything new that hasn’t already been mentioned elsewhere – Facebook, Twitter, WSJ, CNN, The Today Show, NPR, the list goes on and on.

But what virtually no one is talking about, which is quite frankly starting to drive me nuts, is the fact that a rare form of pancreatic cancer is the reason why Steve Jobs will never invent a new product for us. Pancreatic cancer is the reason why the man who saw the future is no longer around to lead us to it.

And I think the responsibility not only falls on us to shine the spotlight on pancreatic cancer, but I hope people close to Steve Jobs – his family and medical team – will speak up too. For the last several years, I have understood and respected Jobs’ steadfast desire for privacy. When I ached to learn all I could learn about the disease two years ago when my mom was sick, I always felt the slight sting of being short changed after listening to perfunctory news updates about Jobs’ liver transplant, weight loss and suspicions about his deteriorating health.

Everyone knows what Steve Jobs built for us. In fact, most of us probably use at least a couple of his inventions every day, if not every hour. What I’d really like is for people to start talking about what took him away from us. That’s one thing we don’t know much about.

When my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a leading oncologist told me that she had a 50% chance of surviving one year and a 5% chance of living for five years. Steve Jobs had pancreatic cancer for eight years. For the 45,000 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States this year, I bet they’d like to hear Steve Jobs’ story too.


Leave Your Comments: 6 comments »  |  Post Tags: , cancer

6 Reader Comments

  1. Cara

    Beautifully written and so very true. I don’t always take the time to comment on your blog, but I do always value and appreciate you sharing your wisdom with me, and my heart often aches for you as you continue to live beyond and process the loss of your mother. You are doing an amazing job.
    The loss of such a great man as Steve Jobs is felt by everyone, but of course more so by you, since your mom was taken by the same disease. My dear friend Joyce was also taken by pancreatic cancer, after a brutal battle of almost 7 years. Please continue to make your voice heard and get the word out there about this very deadly form of cancer. And thank you for baring your soul once again, your words change lives. God bless you, and I know your mom is so proud.

  2. Lisa

    Very nice article. And so so true. I lost my husband to PC just 3 months ago at the age of 51. We would have been married for 30 years. He left behind 3 sons, a granddaughter, missed the birth of his grandson Gavin and one to be born in December. Joel battled the disease for 26 months and 9 days. He is my hero. It is a horrible nasty disease, most people don’t even know what a pancreas is or does for that matter. There definitely needs to be more media attention brought to this disease. Thank you for writing this article.

  3. Portland

    Thank you for your point of view. I have been thinking that it is so sad that a cancer that has not changed as far as early detection, treatment or cure in 40 years took the most innovative person who has improved our lives with his innovation in the same amount of time. I wonder where pancreatic cancer would be now if Steve Jobs had been an Oncologist!

  4. Lauren Thaler

    What a wonderful line: “I wonder where pancreatic cancer would be now if Steve Jobs had been an oncologist!” Thank you for writing — I absolutely love, love, LOVE this thought! How poignant and SO TRUE!!

    All my best,

  5. AD

    Cara is right. I don’t really read blogs (I kind of hate the word blog…but that’s an aside). I really enjoy reading your thoughts. I’d be psyched if people would rally around organ donation too…kept Steve around and innovating. If someone hadn’t shared him/herself with him, he would’ve certainly been gone sooner.

  6. Lauren Thaler

    Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your story, and I completely agree: There needs to be more media attention brought to pancreatic cancer!! Many congrats on the birth of your grandson. I don’t really know how I feel about the afterlife, but as my mother used to say about my father after he died, “if there’s any possible way he could know, then he figured it out and knows.”

    All my best,

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