On the one-year anniversary of Aretha Franklin’s death, it was announced that the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF) established the Aretha Franklin Fund for Neuroendocrine Cancer Research which will help investigate the rare form of cancer that took her life. The Queen of Soul suffered from a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, which only affects seven percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“A lot of the work we fund is basic science in the laboratory, learning why these tumors grow and spread,” Elyse Gellerman, CEO of NETRF, 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.”
The Aretha Franklin Fund hopes to raise $300,000 by 2020 that will be awarded to a researcher for a two-year research project about these rare tumors. So far, they have been given a $1,500 donation from Detroit’s Women’s Informal Network.
Gellerman added that since this tumor leads to different symptoms in every patient and can appear anywhere in the body, more research to inform treatment is crucial.
“One of the characteristics of neuroendocrine tumors is that they can appear anywhere in the body — most commonly in the pancreas, small intestines and lungs — and they present very differently,” Gellerman said. “So while we do have treatments and approaches that physicians can use, we don’t have cures for every patient. That’s why the research we fund is so important.”
Apple CEO also had a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor which he died from in 2011.