Nick Cannon Reveals Why He Opted Against Chemotherapy for Son Zen After Cancer Diagnosis

It's been a year since Nick Cannon tearfully announced on his now-canceled talk show that his 5-month-old son Zen died after a brief battle with a rare form of brain cancer. Cannon shared Zen with model Alyssa Scott. The two recently confirmed they are set to welcome their second child together, also a year after Zen's death. Scott's last post was in Nov., with her announcing that the next time she posts will be after she gives birth. She also has a daughter from a previous relationship. Both have continued to honor the short yet impactful life Zen had on them and their loved ones. And now Cannon is opening up about learning of Zen's diagnosis, why they decided to forgo chemotherapy treatments for Zen.

Cannon says that for the first two months of Baby Zen's life, everything was normal. But after noticing an odd pattern in his breathing, as well as Zen having a larger-than-normal-sized head, they decided to see a doctor. Immediately, Cannon says the doctor was concerned by Zen's head size, and testing began. At worst, due to his breathing pattern, Cannon believed Zen would be diagnosed with asthma. But the prognosis was much worse. 

The parents were told that Zen was suffering from "high-grade glioma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer." They immediately took action and reportedly authorized a procedure that used a shunt to drain fluid from Zen's head, in an effort to stop the rapid growth. Speaking on that decision, Cannon stated, per The Jasmine Brand: "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…That [shunt], to me, made logical sense. There was less pain on him and the procedure was quick. It was all about quality of life."

Unfortunately, doctors told Cannon and Scott that Zen would only live to see 3 or 4. After hearing that, they wanted to ensure Zen had the best quality of life. And after learning that chemotherapy wouldn't cure or prolong his life, they decided it wasn't in Zen's best interest, especially because Zen would have to practically live in the hospital. 

"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 underwent chemo for his own lupus diagnosis, and that took a toll on him. "I knew how as a full grown man, that process," he said. "My hair was falling out…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."

They made the best of Zen's final days. Cannon credits Scott for getting everyone through the difficult time.