Legendary singer Gladys Knight either has pancreatic cancer or she’s completely healthy, depending on who you ask. It was widely reported Friday afternoon that during the funeral for Aretha Franklin, Knight revealed she had been stricken with pancreatic cancer — the same ailment the Queen of Soul died from earlier this month.
However, a couple of hours after the reports from reputable news outlets like Ebony and the Detroit News, Knight’s publicist insisted the singer was just fine.
“She’s healthy,” Javier Delgado told the Detroit Free Press. “Someone must have misinterpreted.
During an interview with local television station WDIV-TV outside of the funeral, Knight seemed sure of her self when she said of Franklin, “We shared the fact that we had the same disease.”
Knight’s health had never been a public concern until Friday. Prior to Franklin’s funeral, Knight had been seen at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York City just this week.
People magazine published a story in February about how “ageless” the 74-year-old looked, dismissing rumors that the singer may have had plastic surgery.
If Knight was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it would be sad but not surprising.
Cancer has been proven to be more deadly for Black people, with that fact being resoundingly true for pancreatic cancer patients, statistics have shown since around 1970, when pancreatic cancer trends began reversing themselves along racial lines.
“In white men, pancreatic cancer death rates decreased by 0.7% per year from 1970 to 1995 and then increased by 0.4% per year through 2009,” according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. “In contrast, the rates among blacks increased between 1970 and the late 1980s (women) or early 1990s (men).”
The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine took it a step further and found through clinical research that the “incidence of pancreatic cancer is 50 – 90% higher in African Americans than in any other racial group in the United States. Not only is pancreatic cancer more common among African Americans, but African Americans also have the poorest prognosis of any racial group because they often are diagnosed with advanced, and therefore, inoperable cancer.”