Nick Cannon is opening up about his late son’s cancer diagnosis and why he and Alyssa Scott opted out of chemotherapy treatment.
While appearing on an episode of Paramount+’s The Checkup with Dr. David Agus, Cannon spoke candidly about the short time he and Scott enjoyed with their five-month-old son, Zen Cannon, before his passing from brain cancer in December 2021.
“He was healthy, active, always smiling,” Cannon said, as noted by People.
The Masked Singer host said it was around the two-month mark when he noticed the infant’s “interesting” breathing patterns and head size.
“Being a father of multiple kids, it’s always the biggest guilt on me is that I don’t get to spend enough time with all my children, one ’cause I’m constantly working and two because I’m just spread thin,” Cannon explained.
“We [also] noticed his head was a little larger, [but] all my kids have big heads. I was a big-headed baby.”
Cannon and Scott thought Zen might have asthma, so they made a doctor’s appointment. But that’s when the physician also took notice of the baby’s head size as the “first sign something was occurring.”
“They did a lot of tests. They didn’t let him leave the hospital,” Cannon recalled. “And so you could imagine, you think you’re taking your son in to get a checkup for — at the worst, I was thinking asthma, you know? And to know that he gets diagnosed with brain cancer, that was a shock.”
Cannon said he and Scott were presented with the option to try chemotherapy after first trying a few shunt treatments.
“When we first went to the hospital, just to decrease his head from rapidly continuing to grow, there were a couple of procedures we were all for,” Cannon said.
“That, to me, made logical sense. There was less pain on him and the procedure was quick. It was all about quality of life.”
When Cannon asked doctors if chemo would lengthen Zen’s life or subside the pain the infant was enduring, the actor recalls doctors saying, “not really.”
“Seeing your son hooked up to all of those machines — and he had to go for a shunt two or three times, and that was heartbreaking every time — even in that short amount of time, I couldn’t imagine him having to go through chemo,” he said.
Cannon experienced chemo to treat his lupus and “knew what that did to me.”
“I knew how as a full grown man, that process … My hair was falling out,” he said. “I wouldn’t even call it pain; it just sucked everything out of you. I couldn’t imagine that on a newborn and what that would do.”
The Wild N’ Out creator also said the treatment would have required Zen to “live in the hospital.”
Cannon and Scott opted out of the treatment and decided to enjoy their last moments with the son enjoying special family bonding time.
“Luckily we did everything from the sunrise, going to the beach, the sunset, said some beautiful prayers as a family, and really came together as a family in a very beautiful way. I’m grateful for that, but it was definitely tough. To see your child there, suffering at a point and watching things shut down, it was pretty intense.”
Earlier this month, Cannon dedicated a tribute to his late son on the one-year anniversary of his passing.
“Physically I’m definitely on the mend but Mentally and Spiritually I’m broken,” Cannon shared in the lengthy caption.
Cannon has a second baby on the way with Scott. He is also father to 11 other children, including 11-year-old twins Monroe and Morrocan with Mariah Carey; sons Rise Messiah, 10 weeks; Golden Sagon, 5; and daughter Powerful Queen, 23 months, with model Brittany Bell.
Additionally, he has a daughter, Beautiful Zeppelin, 3 weeks; and twins Zion and Zillion, 17 months, with Abby De La Rosa; a son, Legendary Love, 5 months, with model Bre Tiesi; and three-month-old daughter, Onyx Ice Cole, with model LaNisha Cole.