Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft before moving on to invest in a number of ventures including the Portland Trail Blazers, has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"This is tough news for Paul and the family," Jody Allen, Paul Allen's sister and chief executive of his Vulcan investment group, wrote in an e-mail to employees that was sent to the media. "He received the diagnosis early this month and has begun chemotherapy. Doctors say he has diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a relatively common form of lymphoma."
Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, after the two saw an article in Popular Electronics about the MITS Altair 8800 and decided to develop a programming language, Altair BASIC, which would run on it. Microsoft's Website calls Altair BASIC "the first computer language program written for a personal computer." However, Allen resigned from his position as a Microsoft executive in 1983, the same year he was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
After being successfully treated for the disease, Allen went on to explore a number of new business ventures, including ownership of two sports teams: the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks. He was also an investor in DreamWorks Animation and Charter Communications, a cable company that filed for Chapter 11 earlier this year.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, or the network of lymph nodes that help provide the body with immunity against disease. It can be treated through a variety of methods, ranging from chemotherapy and radiation therapy to "monoclonal antibody therapy," which tries to leverage the body's natural defenses against the disease. According to WebMD, around 49 out of every 100 patients diagnosed with the disease are alive after 10 years.
"Paul is feeling OK and remains upbeat," Jody Allen's e-mail continued. "He continues to work and he has no plans to change his role at Vulcan. His health comes first, though, and we'll be sure that nothing intrudes on that."
In a statement, Gates said, "Paul is among my closest friends, and I know him to be a strong and resilient individual."