With his passing just six weeks after stepping away from his role as CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs has made Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, one of those days that many of us will remember for the rest of our lives - a day when someone whose shining brilliance and persistence brought him victory after victory throughout the past four decades. The only thing that beat him, and even that took seven years, was pancreatic cancer.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should say right away that the same major surgical procedure Jobs had in July 2004, called a pancreaticoduodenectomy (or "Whipple procedure"), is one I myself underwent in March of this year, and for the exact same reasons. The full (and somewhat grisly) details of the procedure are perhaps best left to Wikipedia, but one thing I can vouch for is that it requires, shall we say, one's full attention.
The idea, for those of us - like Jobs and myself - "lucky" enough to have a tumor on the head of the pancreas rather than elsewhere, is to remove not just most of the pancreas but also a welter of other internal organs that alas represent the collateral damage of this particular operation. I may put quotes around lucky but in truth it really was a stroke of luck, for both him and me. Because the prognosis for pancreatic cancer anywhere else in the pancreas is not exactly uplifting.
The Jobs operation in July 2004 went well, as did mine in 2011...a tribute to the prescience of the U.S. surgeon Allen Whipple who first devised the procedure as long ago as 1935, making it one of surgery's longstanding success stories. Resecting a malignant tumor is a serious business, Whipple's original methodology has understandably been refined and improved, but those surgeons who perform this procedure - which can take anything up to eight hours - are to my mind surely some of the bravest and finest in the front-line of oncology.
Allen Whipple died in 1963 when Jobs was just eight. But it would have been interesting had the two of them met, because both were pioneers in the truest sense: they were both individuals whose gift was to be the first to enter a new region, thus opening it for eventual occupation and development by others.
The regions of technology that Jobs and his companies (plural) entered first are known to us all. His legacy is all around us. The international Cloud Expo team, in particular, will be thinking of him in just one week's time, when Apple's iCloud service is due to launch.
RIP Steve Jobs.