*As reports of Aretha Franklin having pancreatic cancer circulated late Wednesday, her family members and close friend Jesse Jackson still would not address the nature of her illness, yet all insisted that she’s doing well as she recovers from surgery last week.
Franklin’s cousin Brenda Corbett told the Detroit Free Press she is “doing better than doctors expected” and should be released from the hospital this weekend. Corbett tells the paper that Franklin “has a long life in front of her and will be back in concert, on stage, late spring or early summer.”
Franklin announced last week that she had undergone a surgical procedure. Neither she nor her publicist have said what is ailing the 68-year-old Queen of Soul.
On Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press, WJBK FOX 2 News and the National Enquirer all cited an unnamed source who said the Queen of Soul was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The Enquirer further reported that the cancer is incurable and she was given less than a year to live.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he visited Franklin four or five times and her spirits “are high and her faith is strong.”
Franklin last month canceled all concert dates and personal appearances through May on doctors’ orders.
The Free Press has a timeline of Aretha Franklin’s health situation in the past six weeks:
• Oct. 26: Cancels concerts in Virginia and Missouri, citing health reasons.
• Oct. 29: Is released from a short stay at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, but remains mum about the nature of the visit.
• Nov. 4: Announces that doctors have ordered her to cancel all concert dates for the next six months, including big shows in Detroit and New York City. Franklin’s spokeswoman declines to reveal medical details, saying only that the singer is “resting comfortably at home” in Bloomfield Hills.
• Nov. 23: Despite previously promising to make it, Franklin fails to appear at her annual Thanksgiving gospel program in Detroit. Artists on hand offer prayers and song dedications for the absent star.
• Dec. 2: Undergoes a planned surgery early in the morning. The procedure had not been publicly announced beforehand, but word got out when friends scheduled a public prayer vigil on the eve of the operation. Franklin issues a statement hours later: “I had superb doctors and nurses whom were blessed by all the prayers of the city and the country.”
• Wednesday: With Franklin still hospitalized, the National Enquirer reports that she has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Family members counter that the singer is “doing well” and will be back on the road by late spring.