Following the death of Jimmy Buffett, his younger sister, Laurie Buffett McGuane, revealed a secret the family had kept for years.
Around the same time Jimmy was told he had Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, Laurie (Lala) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“Jimmy and I were diagnosed with cancer about the same time,” Laurie, 74, told People. “It was four years ago and Jimmy was actually diagnosed first. When Jimmy found out [I had cancer] he brought the whole family and the dogs to Montana to be with me.”
Laurie said the “Margaritaville” singer was her source of inspiration, and the two of them leaned on each other when their battles with cancer got tough.
“Jimmy and I became closer because of our cancers. We talked before and after our scans,” she said. “We shared a club that nobody wants to join. I am thunderstruck that Jimmy didn’t make it.”
While Jimmy kept his cancer battle private and continued to live his life to the best of his ability, he encouraged his sister to do the same.
“I rode my horse during my treatments and tried to continue with my life the same way Jimmy has done,” she said of her late brother.
For years Jimmy continued to perform for his Parrothead fans, but in recent months he was forced to cancel shows due to an undisclosed illness.
Canceling the shows “devastated” Jimmy.
His final show was a surprise performance at a Rhode Island restaurant in July 2023.
“Jimmy wanted to perform the shows that he had to cancel,” she said. “He brought joy to so many. I am very emotional now. When Jimmy was in the world, I felt safe. Even though I have Tom, it will be a whole new thing for me to be without my brother Jimmy.”
Laurie underwent surgery at Duke University and continued treatment in Montana. She’s now cancer-free.
Jimmy Buffett died September 1 after a four-year battle with Merkel cell carcinoma that had progressed to lymphoma. He was 76.
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Rest in paradise, Jimmy. You were an absolute legend and will be missed by so many.