DETROIT — Regardless of her reputation as a performer, Aretha Franklin’s cancer doctors say she was no diva as a patient.

As the anniversary of her death approaches, two of her doctors said the Queen of Soul handled the diagnosis and treatment with grace — and the grit to keep performing for years with a rare type of cancer.

“As a person, she was extremely kind, she was respectful, she was funny — she treated people like me and my team members as her friends,” said Dr. Manisha Shah of Ohio State University. “There is no phone call that would end without her asking about us. Most of the time she would ask about us first … It’s because who she was: She was really down-to-earth.”

Franklin, who died in Detroit on Aug. 16, 2018, at 76, had pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, which starts in the pancreas but is far different and much slower developing than the more common, aggressive type of pancreatic cancer known as adenocarcinoma. Franklin’s kind is exceedingly rare: Neuroendocrine cancers comprise about 7% of cancers originating in the pancreas, according to the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation .

Shah said she first saw Franklin after her 2010 diagnosis, surgery and treatment at Detroit’s Karmanos Cancer Center.

“I think she had her priorities very clear in her mind. … She would ask me how long this treatment would go for, what would be her restrictions,” Shah said. “As far as I can see, she was able to live that dream, or her plan.”

Of course, her illness meant some cancellations, which was to include performing on her 76th birthday in March of last year in Newark, N.J., and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. But she gamely carried on as her illness progressed: Performances of note included closing a gala in November 2017 for Elton John’s 25th anniversary of his AIDS foundation, and bringing President Barack Obama and many others to tears in 2015 with a triumphant performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at a Kennedy Center tribute for the song’s co-writer, Carole King.

“How can the same person who is going through this cancer journey continue to do what she did all her life? It’s amazing how she went through it so gracefully,” Shah said. “She wasn’t afraid.”

Jeff Karoub is an Associated Press writer.