In the days leading up to the anniversary of Aretha Franklin’s death, two of her doctors spoke out about how the late singer handled her cancer diagnosis.
“As a person, she was extremely kind, she was respectful, she was funny — she treated people like me and my team members as her friends,” Dr. Manisha Shah of Ohio State University tells The Associated Press via msn.com. “There is no phone call that would end without her asking about us. Most of the time she would ask about us first. … It’s because who she was: She was really down-to-earth.”
Franklin, died in Detroit on Aug. 16, 2018, at 76, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She reportedly received treatment at Detroit’s Karmanos Cancer Center, where Shah first treated the singer after her 2010 diagnosis.
“I think she had her priorities very clear in her mind. … She would ask me how long this treatment would go for, what would be her restrictions,” Shah said. “As far as I can see, she was able to live that dream, or her plan.”
Shah added “It’s amazing how she went through it so gracefully. She wasn’t afraid.”
Both Shah and Dr. Philip Agop Philip, a professor at Karmanos and Wayne State University, recalled how Franklin wanted to continue her life as normal as possible.
“She was full speed — she wasn’t even complaining,” said Philip. “That was different than what I expected. … She never showed signs that she was close to thinking that she may give up … until the end, close to the end.”
Philip said Franklin didn’t demand star treatment, and she never made him or his staff “feel that we need to treat her as a celebrity.”
“She knew her body, she knew herself,” he said. “A lot of patients will ask for treatment that doesn’t really make much difference to her body. She didn’t do that.”
Both Shah and Philip noted Franklin’s positivity in the face of cancer.
“Aretha as a person who was fighting cancer, she was very curious, she was very calm. She was hopeful, she was an optimist. This was kind of her attitude. She didn’t let cancer cripple her. She did not have that feeling that cancer was the main center of her life,” Shah said. “She lived her life as simply and beautifully and as full as possible every day. For us, it was such an inspiring journey of several years with her.”
As a tribute to the Queen of Soul, Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation CEO Elyse Gellerman has created the Aretha Franklin Fund for Neuroendocrine Cancer Research.
“We wanted to create this fund so that those who wanted to honor Aretha’s memory have a way to support the research,” Gellerman said.