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October 24, 2014

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Aretha Franklin's Family Remaining Positive Despite Cancer Battle

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Over the past week, news of Aretha Franklin's purported pancreatic cancer diagnosis has given her fans little hope that the Grammy Award-winning R&B singer will return to her reign as the Queen of Soul.

But family members are letting the world know that the icon's return to the spotlight looks promising.

"Aretha is doing better than expected. She has a long life in front of her and will be back in concert and on stage late spring or early summer," Franklin's cousin, Brenda Corbett, who has visited her frequently since her hospitalization, told the Detroit Free Press."This girl is doing great, and they need to stop it," she added, referring to the National Enquirer report that noted pancreatic cancer survival rates are a mere five percent to 10 percent.

Pancreatic cancer has claimed the lives of several famous people, including Patrick Swayze, Joan Crawford, Michael Landon, as well as Franklin's friend and famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti, whom she paid tribute to at a 1998 Grammy MusiCares benefit.

On Friday, recent Grammy nominee and 2007 Kennedy Center Living Jazz Legend recipient James Moody died after just 10 months of suffering from the deadly disease. According to his spokesperson, the jazz saxophonist and flutist, best known for his hit 'Moody's Mood for Love,' was diagnosed in the spring with the disease and died on Dec. 9 at age 85.

Dr. H. Leon Pachter, chairman of surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center, told CBS News, "It's a grim diagnosis. Overall, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is 35 percent." Of last year's 43,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer in the United States, 37,000 people died from the disease, the National Cancer Institute reports.

Pachter did reveal that he's treated patients for the disease who have survived for more than a decade. According to reports, two survival success stories include Apple CEO Steve Jobs and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Franklin was expected to be released from the hospital over the weekend just in time to spend her favorite holiday, Christmas, with loved ones.

Despite the medical statistics of pancreatic cancer, her family is putting on a united front and staying very positive about her condition.

"Aretha is doing absolutely wonderful," her sister-in-law, Earline Franklin said. "All the prayers and well wishes have supported her, and she's doing well."

The 68-year-old vocal powerhouse is requesting a desire for privacy, which was breached in a phone conversation when former R&B star Keith Washington made her news public. The 'Kissing You' crooner is employed as an on-air personality at Detroit's WDMK/105.9 Kiss FM, which is owned by black media company Radio One.

Corbett confirmed that Franklin will make a statement when she decides to, and not at the urging of media or anyone else.

"It's her private business, and she's just not ready to talk about it. Give her time to heal. When people ask for their privacy, respect them for that," Corbett added.

As previously reported, Franklin underwent a surgery on Dec. 2, which had not been publicly announced but made national headlines after city council members held a public vigil the night before the operation.

A medical surgery known as the whipple procedure, in which the head of the pancreas, gall bladder and parts of the stomach and small intestine are removed, is the only way to cure the disease.

Through her spokesperson, Tracey J. Jordan, Franklin issued a statement saying, "The surgery was highly successful. God is still in control. I had superb doctors and nurses whom were blessed by all the prayers of the city and the country. God bless you all for your prayers!"

Jordan declined to offer any further comment.





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Her Royal Highness

After recording a string of jazz and blues projects for Columbia Records, Memphis born songstress Aretha Franklin landed at Atlantic Records in 1966. "They made me sit down on the piano and the hits came," she later said about her legacy there.

Her Royal Highness

Aretha Franklin performing during a Martin Luther King Benefit at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York on June 28, 1968.

Her Royal Highness

Aretha Franklin with 'Soul Train' creator Don Cornelius. Franklin was one of many entertainers who performed on the long-running show during its 1970s heyday.

Her Royal Highness

Aretha Franklin rehearsing for Inaugural Eve program for newly elected US President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale at the Kennedy Center in 1977.

Her Royal Highness

Flanked in fur, Aretha Franklin in the press room at the Grammy Awards, circa early 1980s.

Her Royal Highness

Aretha Franklin performing in Chicago on April 18, 1985.

Her Royal Highness

Aretha Franklin, pictured here with Atlantic Records chairman Ahmet Ertegun (circa early 1990s), at a private music industry party.

Her Royal Highness

Aretha Franklin and Luciano Pavarotti are photographed at the 8th Annual Music Cares Gala in Honor of the famed opera singer. The event took place at New York City's posh Waldorf Astoria Hotel on February 23, 1998.

Her Royal Highness

Aretha Franklin held royal court during the broadcast of 'VH1 Divas Live' at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on April 14, 1998. During the show's finale a stirring rendition of her classic song, 'Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel),' The Queen of Soul is joined by Gloria Estefan, Mariah Carey, Carole King, Celine Dion and Shania Twain.

Her Royal Highness

On September 29, 1999, President Bill Clinton, along with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, awarded Aretha Franklin with the 1999 National Medal of Arts and Humanities Award at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC.

Her Royal Highness


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