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Warren Buffett has prostate cancer, but doesn't slow down

April 17, 2012: 5:11 PM ET

How Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett spent the week he found out he has prostate cancer: Business as usual.

By Carol Loomis, senior editor-at-large


Warren Buffett caught it early.

FORTUNE -- Last week was the most extraordinary week in Warren Buffett's history – but he lived his business life as if this was the most normal time in the world.

As Buffett announced today, he was diagnosed with Stage I prostate cancer last Wednesday, after a biopsy the previous day. On Thursday he had a CAT scan and bone scan, with these showing that the cancer had not spread elsewhere in his body.

On that same Thursday, he and a small group had dinner with his non-cousin, entertainer Jimmy Buffett, at a new Omaha restaurant called J. Coco's. Jimmy was in town for a performance two days later.

The following day – Friday – Buffett, the elder, was host to 160 business students from such universities as MIT, University of Chicago, University of Tennessee, and Peru's Universidad del Pacifico. Following the usual routine for such visits (there are six scheduled for this school year) the students toured two Berkshire retail subsidiaries, held a two-and-a-half hour Q&A session with Buffett, and lunched at one of his favorite restaurants, Piccolo's.

The riff at Piccolo's was that Jimmy Buffett turned up for lunch, creating an instant sensation.

MORE: Buffett gains ground in hedge fund bet

At Jimmy's performance the next night at Century/Link Center, the first person on stage was Warren Buffett, who deadpanned a "Welcome to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting." Actually, the only thing dissonant about his greeting was that the Berkshire meeting, which is held at that same Center, spreads out to overflow rooms and actually draws many more people than the standing-room-only (and wildly enthusiastic) crowd that Jimmy Buffett attracted.

On Sunday Buffett caught his breath. Then, on Monday morning at 7:30 AM, he met with his doctors to discuss courses of treatment for his newly discovered illness.

But he jumped from that consultation into a business meeting at 9 AM.  And in the afternoon he was videoed for a skit that will be a part of a movie shown at Berkshire's (BRKA) annual meeting on May 5th.

That night, because he had a big dinner with a visiting delegation of foundation presidents, he did not play online bridge with his usual Monday foursome, which includes a player from Los Angeles, one from Harrison, New York, and me. One person very relieved about not playing was yours truly, who needed time to collect her wits and write this article.

FORTUNE senior editor-at-large Carol Loomis is a longtime friend of Warren Buffett's, a longtime Berkshire Hathaway shareholder as well, and editor of Buffett's annual shareholders' letter.


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