The news about Aretha Franklin is not good, not good at all. Reports from her family earlier this week say the 68-year-old singer, pop culture icon, Detroit resident, and first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has pancreatic cancer.
The illness has a high incidence rate among African-Americans, according to John Hopkins University researchers, but it's also the illness that claimed Patrick Swayze's life. The recovery rate is dismal. The American Cancer Society says, "Fewer than 4% (of patients) will be alive after 5 years." Nonetheless, the singer's friends, including Jesse Jackson, and her family say she's "doing very well" after surgery, and some family members "insist she will sing again."
Detroit's local Fox station reports:
Last week the 68-year-old underwent surgery for a mystery illness. The surgery was deemed a success, but the reason or reasons for the surgery were not released to the public. A few weeks ago Franklin canceled all concerts through May 2011 due to "medical reasons."
I immediately agreed to write a tribute to Aretha, thinking that the Queen of Soul's work is in me so deeply this writing tasks would be easy, a cake walk since her music has been the soundtrack playing during critical parts of my life. However, less than 20 minutes into the writing process I was weeping and wanting to kick myself because my spirit challenged my mind with questions: What made you think you could do this? The Queen of Soul has pancreatic cancer. The prognosis does not bode well. Almost every song you hear from this woman evokes memories of your mother, your aunts, your childhood, your hopes for love in your youth, your disappointment in love later, even your literal dreams. Aretha has appeared in your dreams singing. You can't write this blog post. What were you thinking?
Those words are no exaggeration. Aretha's music always seems to be near me. When I first heard about her hospitalization and the prayer vigils, I think I went into denial. It was Friday night, December 3, and I was at a Christmas gala, a fundraiser held for a community center in New Orleans, listening to a band, Clark Knighten and the 4X4 Connection featuring Naydja Cojoe.
Naydja was singing one of Aretha songs, "Baby I Love You," and doing a good job of it, too. I was singing along at the table, embarrassing my son, who was a few days shy of his 20th birthday, and making my daughter, who is nearing 30, laugh as well as my cousin's daughter, age 17. I made faces and sang: .... Please continue reading at BlogHer.com.