I will have to admit I know little about pancreatic cancer. I know that most variations, in most cases, are rapidly lethal. I know I feel highly empathetic towards anyone who has received the diagnosis. I know that I am very happy living with diabetes especially relative to the idea of having this type of cancer.
However, with the announcement yesterday that Steve Jobs may have a recurrence of the rare form of pancreatic cancer he had in 2004, discussions on all sorts of topics are flying. The one most interesting to an insulin diabetic is this …
First and foremost, we assume Mr. Jobs survives, survives well, goes back to work and is healthy.
Second, Mr. Jobs reportedly had a Whipple procedure during his first bout with pancreatic cancer. (For the record, the cancer is different than Patrick Swayze’s in that it is not considered terminal and does not require chemotherapy or radiation.) A Whipple procedure, in short, is partial removal of his pancreas. The Whipple procedure may cause a reduction in hormones, including insulin production and release.
So the conjecture: 1) the Whipple procedure caused a hormone and/or an insulin deficiency which led to the noticeable weight loss and prompted the announced medical leave and 2) Mr. Jobs is having his pancreas removed in entirety and will be an entirely insulin dependent diabetic upon exit from the operating room.
For the moment, of insulin-dependent diabetic interest, is the possibility that Mr. Jobs, who runs one of the best technology companies in the world, is now entirely insulin-dependent and what that means. Again, we are assuming Mr. Jobs will recover completely.
So, if Mr. Jobs is an insulin-dependent diabetic and a “techie” what might that mean? What I guarantee it means is that he will not be happy using syringes, bottles of insulin and highly inaccurate glucose testing (hand held or the continuous glucose monitoring variety).
So, it is likely that Mr. Jobs will try a pump and a CGMS. I think he will quickly ascertain they are substandard to his idea of technology. I think that he will also dislike that the CGMS still must to be calibrated multiple times per day and he must still prick his finger, that it is 20% inaccurate, has a 20 minute delay and that it does not tell a pump what to do. That is, it is not a closed-end loop.
Now, this is where the hope comes into play … I do not think this is an “if,” I think this is a “how long” will it take Steve Jobs to throw the best insulin delivery and glucose monitoring products we currently have in the trash and pull his I-Pod engineers into the world of diabetes?
Look out guys … with a great deal of misfortune to the Jobs family, a little bit of luck to the diabetes community, and a little Apple backing, I think we might be just be in for the best tools technology ride of our diabetes careers. Imagine, the closed loop system, accurate glucose monitoring, apple interfaces, an I-Pod or an I-Phone to boot (all-in-one)
Look out pump, CGMS and glucose monitoring manufacturers, in Emeril’s words, you just might have to “kick it up a notch!”