Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is in remission after announcing last September that he had
lymphoma, a type of cancer.
The Wall Street executive confirmed that he was cancer-free in an interview with Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein on Bloomberg’s recently-launched David Rubenstein Show.
“You don’t know how you’ll react to things until you live through them,” Blankfein said in the interview.
He said that while he exhibited symptoms like weight loss, a cough, and aches and pains in the weeks leading up to the diagnosis, he wrote them off as allergies and signs of ageing. He even went to the doctor once and was simply prescribed allergy medicine.
It was only a couple of weeks later that he got a full CT scan, Blankfein said, which “lit up like a Christmas tree.”
A doctor called to say he had an aggressive, but curable, type of lymphoma.
“The peculiarity of my being a CEO of a public company was, you really can’t tell anybody until you tell everybody,” Blankfein said.
He and his wife kept the secret, even on the day of his biopsy as he first stopped at a televised press event.
He said he had to wait five days after the biopsy to determine what steps to take for treatment. When he did get the results, Blankfein said, the cancer was so advanced that he “literally went upstairs from the doctor who delivered the results to me — right upstairs to strap on the first of the chemo treatments.”
His treatment included six three-week cycles of chemotherapy, he said. The first four-and-a-half days of each cycle, or about 98 hours, involved continuous chemotherapy throughout the night and day. He did not officially take any time off as CEO of his firm.
Now that he’s in remission, Blankfein said he does worry about the cancer coming back.
“I should have been worried that I’d get it for the first time. Now I’m on edge because I’m worried about getting it for the second time,” he said.
That said, Blankfein was able to break a smile as he described what was going through his head when he first heard the news:
“I’m very reality based. Maybe I’m not that spiritual, I don’t know. I just, got very focused. … I’m kind of a fatalist in some ways. I said, every time I’d ever gotten a physical, and the doctor called up and said there was nothing wrong with me, I was like shocked. So finally, somebody called me up and said something’s wrong with me, I said, oh, par for the course.”