"Aretha's been trying to keep this from her fans because she didn't want to cause panic -- she even hid her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer from some members," a source close to the singer/songwriter told The Enquirer.Obesity (she's 5'5" and weighs more than 300 pounds), age and poor physical condition could all pose as complications. Rev Jesse Jackson, Aretha's friend of more than 40 years visited her, too. He told reporters today that Aretha is "recovering very well" and her spirits "are high and her faith is strong." He adds: "She's conscious, communicating and taking daily walks up and down the hall." While in the recovery room after the surgery, Stevie Wonder was there holding her hands "for hours, in tears, softly talking and praying for her."
"Despite declaring her surgery a success, she's in a very bad war. She likely has only months to love. She was diagnosed six months ago after she started to feel very sick, and no matter what she did, the stomach pains would not go away."
In some ways, Aretha has already beat the odds. Half of all pancreatic cancer patients die within six months of being diagnosed.
At first, Aretha found it hard to believe her doctors' devastating diagnosis, revealed the close source. But after seeing her test results and continuing to experience the pain, the source says she knew she was in a battle for her life.
When word leaked that the iconic entertainer would have surgery in December, a cover story was spread that she was having gastric bypass surgery -- perhaps to explain why she'd losing lots of weight in the coming months.
"But the surgery was not for gastric bypass -- it was specifically for the pancreatic cancer she's been battling," said the close source. "Surgeons had to remove half of her stomach. She's one brave lady.
Insiders say the Queen of Soul underwent the standard operation for pancreatic cancer -- called the "Whipple" procedure.
"A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is very bad because the outcome is very poor -- there's generally only a 5 to 10 percent survival rate," Dr Jerome Spunberg, a Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Cancer specialist, told The Enquirer.
When doctors wait months to operate -- they did in Aretha's case -- it often means that a patient has an advanced form of the disease that must first be treated with pre-surgery chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, said the expert, who has not treated Aretha.
But despite the surgery, she still faces a grim prognosis. Only one in five pancreatic cancer patients survive for more than a year after being diagnosed.
We wish the queen a speedy recovery. Let's all say a lil prayer for her.
Source: National Enquirer, Dec. 20, print edition.