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Singer Etta James off respirator, breathing on her own

By Denise Quan and Alan Duke, CNN
updated 1:06 PM EST, Mon January 2, 2012
Singer Etta James, who is battling the final stages of terminal leukemia, is off the respirator and breathing on her own, but remains hospitalized.
Singer Etta James, who is battling the final stages of terminal leukemia, is off the respirator and breathing on her own, but remains hospitalized.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: James' sons share "end of life" decisions with husband, lawyer says
  • The "At Last" singer is battling the final stages of terminal leukemia
  • She is also suffering from dementia
  • Etta James was hospitalized on December 21

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Singer Etta James is "nearing the ends of her time," but her health has improved in recent days allowing doctors to remove the respirator that was helping her breathe, according to her sons' lawyer.

James, 73, has been in a Southern California hospital for two weeks battling the final stages of terminal leukemia and suffering from dementia.

The "At Last" singer spent New Year's Eve watching the ball drop with her sons, Donto and Sametto James, in her hospital room, said Donto James, who played drums in his mother's Roots band for 15 years.

"She's all right," James said. "My brother and I would like to see her stay in the hospital a little longer until she gets more stable. Our main concern is for her to be taken care of right."

2003: Etta James reflects on her career

Paul Wright, a lawyer represents the sons in their dispute with Etta James' husband over who makes decisions for her, said Sunday that the singer is "nearing the ends of her time, but she's a tough lady."

The judge overseeing James' conservatorship approved an agreement last month in which husband Artis Mills is the conservator, but he must equally share "end of life" decisions with the sons, Wright said.

Mills is also limited in how much of her estate he can spend and he cannot "encumber her music catalog," Wright said.

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