A mystery cloud swelled around legendary singer Aretha Franklin this past fall when news spread that she had cancelled all of her concerts through May 2011 so that she could recuperate from an illness. An unnamed family member has revealed to a local television outlet that Franklin has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an incurable disease with a survival rate as low as five to 10 percent.
The Queen of Soul, who trumpeted the female empowerment tune of “Respect” into the hearts of millions, underwent an undisclosed medical procedure on Dec. 2 in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan. She sent out a message to her fans through her media representative, Tracy Jordan.
“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,” Franklin said.
Longtime friend Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Associated Press that he has visited Franklin four to five times and notes that she is “recovering well” from surgery.
JoAnn Watson, a city councilwoman, led a prayer vigil for the 68-year-old singer. Franklin joins a list of other famous people who also battled pancreatic cancer, including Patrick Swayze, Michael Landon, and her friend, Luciano Pavarotti,—all entertainers who are now deceased.