Merkel Cell Carcinoma Has Taken the Life of Jimmy Buffett After Fending Off Cancer for Four Years


Jimmy Buffett survived a 1994 plane crash that was the inspiration for his song “Live Like It’s Your Last Day.”

According to an obituary on his website, Jimmy, 76, died peacefully at his Sag Harbor Long Island home on September 1st surrounded by his family and close friends.

In addition to his 50-year musical career, he built a billion-dollar business that included several vacation-themed restaurants and the ‘Margaritaville’ café.

 Inspiring His Sister Who Had Pancreatic Cancer

Jimmy’s sister, Laurie Buffett McGuane, told CNN that she received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer shortly after Jimmy announced his Merkel cell carcinoma diagnosis. The siblings supported each other through their ordeal.

It was Jimmy who inspired Laurie to stay strong. She is now cancer-free but already misses Jimmy and was quite emotional during the recent interview. Laurie shared their childhood photo on Instagram.

About Merkel Cell Carcinoma

The NCI defines Merkel cell carcinoma as rare and usually appears as a painless lump on the skin that has been exposed to the sun and which will metastasize rapidly.

The skin cancer affects less than 3,000 individuals living in the U.S. each year.

Merkel cells appear to be a form of malignant cells located at the nerve endings of the skin.

The cause of Merkel cell cancer is not fully understood other than the tumors will eventually get out of control. Scientists believe that the cause may be UV light exposure or a weakened immune system as a result of advanced age. Other causes may be disease-related or the Merkel cell polyomavirus that is found in almost all Merkel cell tumors. The virus was discovered in 2008.

Every child gets this virus, but it does not cause symptoms. The cancer usually forms on arms or legs which are the areas most exposed to the sun. However, the cancer has also appeared in the esophagus or in the nose.

The tumor appears as a raised purple or red pimple or lump. If the cancer is caught early the patient may live at least five years after the diagnosis. The ACS estimates about 75% five-year survival rate in isolated tumors. However, if the cancer has spread the estimated survival drops to about 24%.

Merkel cell patients tend to relapse in two to three years after treatment.

The risk of men getting Merkel cell is almost double that of women, especially if they are 70 or older. The risk may be associated with the amount of damage to a person’s skin during their lifetime.

The Last Performance

Jimmy kept performing during his treatment and even made a surprise appearance on July 2nd in Portsmouth to a very appreciative crowd.

Protection from Sun Damage

The ACS strongly recommends examining your skin once a month plus getting a regular checkup by a doctor.


Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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