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Aretha Franklin Estate Announces New Fund for Rare Form of Pancreatic Cancer

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Aretha Franklin performs at Radio City Music Hall on February 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Friday marked the first anniversary of Aretha Franklin’s death, and the Aretha Franklin estate took the opportunity to announce the launch of a new fund dedicated to continuing research into the cancer that took her life.

As the Detroit Free Press reports, the Aretha Franklin Fund for Neuroendocrine Cancer Research will support continued investigation into the rare form of pancreatic cancer Franklin faced at the end of her life. The neuroendocrine tumor (NET) which ultimately led to Franklin’s passing, occurs in only 7 percent of pancreatic cancer cases, and took the life of Apple co-founder and longtime CEO Steve Jobs in 2011.

The Aretha Franklin Fund for Neuroendocrine Cancer represents a partnership between the singer’s estate, the Detroit-based Women’s Informal Network, and Boston’s Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF).

“A lot of the work we fund is basic science in the laboratory, learning why these tumors grow and spread,” NETRF’s CEO Elyse Gellerman told the Detroit Free Press. “We don’t know all the answers about that. Researchers are trying to understand these tumors at a cellular level and—with some of the treatments available—why some patients respond and others do not.”

Gellerman also said that the fund would help awareness about the rare, life-threatening disease. “I know the neuroendocrine tumors community was frustrated with the cause of Aretha Franklin’s death wasn’t correctly reported.”

Franklin’s diagnosis with the disease was initially reported in 2010, when she canceled numerous concerts and appearances amid her declining health. She went on to live another eight years, announcing her immanent retirement from music in 2017 before entering hospice care at her home in Detroit in August 2018. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family,” her surviving family members shared in a statement after her death. “The love she had for her children, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.