Nick Cannon Explains Decision Not to Treat Late Son Zen's Cancer With Chemotherapy

Nick Cannon is opening up about his late son Zen's battle with a brain tumor. After Cannon shared the heartbreaking news earlier this month that Zen passed away at just 5 months of age, the TV personality opened up about his and Alyssa Scott's decision not to treat their son's brain cancer with chemotherapy, Cannon sharing that he and Scott "were having quality-of-life conversations."

Cannon opened up about Zen's joyous birth and his tragic passing in a new interview with PEOPLE, revealing that just days after his son's June birth, he and Scott noticed he had irregular breathing. Although doctors initially "didn't think it to be anything too concerning" and later determined that Zen's head was "growing a little too quickly," Cannon and Scott received the devastating news in August, when Zen was just 2 months old, that their son had been diagnosed with high-grade glioma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. Doctors placed a shunt in the infant's skull to drain fluid, but the tumors continued to grow.

After receiving the diagnosis, Cannon said he and Scott began "asking, 'Is there a way to prevent this? If not, how long do we have?'" and the conversations "quickly turned to, 'How can we give him the best life for the time that he does have?' It could be weeks, it could be months, it could be years." They discussed several treatment options with doctors, including chemotherapy, though Scott and Cannon, who has undergone chemotherapy in his own battle with lupus, decided not to subject Zen to chemotherapy and instead focus on keeping their son "as happy as he could possibly be."

"We were having quality-of-life conversations," Cannon said. "We could have had that existence where he would've had to live in the hospital, hooked up to machines, for the rest of the time. From someone who's had to deal with chemotherapy before, I know that pain. To see that happen to a 2-month-old, I didn't want that. I didn't want him to suffer."

Cannon said he and Scott "focused on Disneyland, our favorite place," adding that "every month we would celebrate his birthday, just really seeing it as a victory every time he had a milestone that he was still here with us." However, Zen's condition worsened over Thanksgiving weekend Cannon telling the outlet, "you could tell he was struggling. We'd wake up, and he wouldn't be breathing for maybe five to 10 seconds at a time, and then he'd let out a huge gasp. You could see it frightened him. It was the scariest thing I've ever experienced." As his condition worsened, Cannon and Scott took their son to the beach, Cannon sharing that he "was like, 'We have to watch the sun rise and just be there with him one last time.'" Zen passed away on Dec. 5, with Cannon saying that he sees "it as a blessing that I got to be there" with his son during his final moments.