Hours after Gladys Knight reportedly revealed that she is battling pancreatic cancer – the same disease that struck her late friend and fellow soul legend Aretha Franklin – Knight’s publicist denied that the singer has cancer.
WDIV, a local television station in Detroit, Michigan, reported that Knight said she had “the same illness” as Franklin while attending the Queen of Soul’s service at Greater Grace Temple on Thursday, The Detroit News reports. The singer did not disclose when she was diagnosed with the illness.
However, in a statement to Rolling Stone, Knight’s rep Jay Schwartz denied that the singer had the disease. “Gladys does not have pancreatic cancer,” Schwartz confirmed. “She is fine!”
In a statement to Rolling Stone via Schwartz, Knight cleared up the miscommunication. “I’d like to clarify that Aretha and I discussed both of us having cancer, mine was stage 1 breast cancer and hers was pancreatic,” she said. “Due to early detection, I am cancer-free and grateful for that. It is unfortunate that on a day we should be celebrating Aretha’s life and massive contribution to our world, a reporter who did not relay accurate information has missed the message. I send my love to the entire Franklin family and my gratitude to them for sharing such an extraordinary person with us.”
Knight reflected on mortality in a recent interview with Us Weekly. “The Lord tells us where we are going and tells us when we are coming,” she said. “So I’m not overly upset about [Franklin’s death], and he knows how much each one of us can bear, and he calls us home with those things in mind. That’s the way I feel about it, because he loves us like that.”
Elsewhere in the piece, the 74-year-old said she misses Franklin but “didn’t want her to suffer.”
“I really didn’t,” she continued. “And, you know, people could see it. She just kept driving and driving, and she knew it was a disease that would take her out, and she just kept on doing what she does best. So Aretha, safe journey.”