There’s no app for curing cancer: How pancreatic cancer robbed me

My mother, Teresa Whatcott, who passed away on Jan. 8, 2005, from pancreatic cancer.

I am a Mac person.


I conducted research for this article on my iPhone as I waited to pick my kids up from school and wrote it using the iMac in my office while listening to music on my iPod.


As a Mac person, when I heard that Steve Jobs had passed away on Oct. 5, I felt robbed.


I don’t presume to know how Jobs was in his personal life, but on a daily basis I have been impacted by the technological innovations this man has created.


Jobs’ death and the magnitude of his loss brings me back to Jan. 8, 2005, when I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer, the same disease that took Jobs.


As I watched the strongest woman I have ever known succumb to an invisible impostor – as I watched her body wither away day by day – I desperately ached for the scientific innovations that could present a cure.


Of course my mother had a greater impact on my life than Jobs. And just as the magnificent mind of Jobs’ has affected my life on a daily basis, so has my mother’s, years after she has gone.


Her expertise was not of the technological sort. Her reach was not global. But her footprint was nonetheless grand and important to those who have crossed paths with this good woman. Her expertise fell in the realm of friend, sister, daughter, wife, mother.


With my mother’s death, I felt robbed. She will not be at my graduation this spring. My children will never know her. They will never sit on her lap while she rocks them to sleep. She will not be at their graduations or weddings. She will never hold their newborn babes.


With Jobs’ death I felt robbed. While technology will continue to advance, and a lot of that due to Jobs’ creations, no one seems to be discussing how Jobs died.


Jobs left us with incredible innovations, for which he is being celebrated. But will anyone remember how even a man who out of obscurity rose to the top was not able to be saved from the invisible disease?


Jobs was only 56 when he died. My mom was 51. In my mind this makes losing them a greater blow.


On top of that, because of large deficits the government is incurring, the funding required to realize the hope of stopping this cruel invisible parasite through cancer research was cut in Feb. 2011.


How many more lives have to be claimed by pancreatic cancer, which, compared to breast and skin cancer, is the less-hyped disease?


Apparently many more. Of those diagnosed with it, only 5 percent will live five years. Jobs fell into that 5 percent, he was diagnosed in 2003. My mom lived nine months.


This disease will forever be a part of Jobs’ children’s lives. I know it is a part of mine. When I was 25 and a half, it occured to me that if I were to die at the same age as my mother, I was then at my midlife.


I think about the weddings and births and holiday I could miss, if I die at 51, just as my mom missed them.


While most days I feel like I couldn’t live with out my iPhone, a product I have Jobs to thank for, I would much rather have every penny spent on developing a new iPhone or any other technology, on cancer research, so that in 24 years I can still be alive. So that families like my own, don’t have to be robbed of their mother or their father, their husband or wife, their friend and neighbor.

1 thought on “There’s no app for curing cancer: How pancreatic cancer robbed me

  1. Thank you for this article. I too lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in 1993. She was 52. I feel the very same things you do. My 18 yo daughter is a Freshman at UVU. My mom died when she was 8 mo old. An amazing woman that touched many lives. I write this on my iPhone. It saddens me any time I hear of someone with this horrible disease. God bless you.

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