"No one wants to die," said Apple's chief executive, Steven P. Jobs. "And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it."
It was a little over three years ago that Mr. Jobs spoke those existential words, in a commencement address at Stanford. His thoughts about death came during a portion of his speech in which he publicly discussed -- for the one and only time, so far as I can tell -- his brush with pancreatic cancer.
He talked about how he had learned in 2004 that he had a tumor on his pancreas. How his doctors told him that he shouldn't expect to live more than six months. How, after "living with that diagnosis all day," he had a biopsy that showed that his was a rare form of pancreatic cancer, curable with surgery. "I had the surgery and I'm fine now," Mr. Jobs told the Stanford graduates. He added, "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."
It was an uplifting tale, and an inspiring message. It was also less than the whole truth. In fact, Mr. Jobs first discovered he had an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor -- which is both rarer and less deadly than other forms of pancreatic cancer -- in October 2003. This was a full nine months before he had the surgery to remove it. Why did he wait so long? Because, according to a Fortune magazine article published in May, Mr. Jobs was hoping to beat the cancer with a special diet.