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Aretha Franklin's cancer doctors recall her grace, grit

Aretha Franklin died in Detroit on Aug. 16,

Aretha Franklin died in Detroit on Aug. 16, 2018, at 76. She had pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. Photo Credit: AP / Matt Rourke

Regardless of her reputation as a performer, Aretha Franklin's cancer doctors say she was no diva as a patient.

As the anniversary of her death approaches, two of her doctors say that the Queen of Soul handled the diagnosis and treatment with grace — and the grit to keep performing for years with a rare type of cancer.

"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," said Dr. Manisha Shah of Ohio State University. "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, who died in Detroit on Aug. 16, 2018, at 76, had pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, which starts in the pancreas but is far different and much slower developing than the more common, aggressive type of pancreatic cancer known as adenocarcinoma. 

Both Shah and Dr. Philip Agop Philip, a professor at Karmanos and Wayne State University, recalled how she wanted to continue her life as normally — and positively — as possible.

"She was full speed — she wasn't even complaining," said Philip, who first saw Franklin in early 2011 and was her doctor of record at the time of her death.

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