Nick Cannon on losing his five-month-old son: my heart is shattered

Last week, Nick Cannon made the emotional announcement on his talk show that he had sadly lost his five-month-old son, Zen, to an aggressive form of brain cancer. In a new cover interview with People Magazine, Nick opened up about Zen’s medical history and how he and Zen’s mother, Alyssa Scott, discovered he had glioma, a type of brain cancer, at two months. He also spoke about the harrowing decisions they had to make, and about the pain of losing Zen at such a young age.

Doctors placed a shunt in Zen’s skull to allow excess fluid to drain and alleviate pressure, but they discovered that his tumors had continued to grow.

“We started asking, ‘Is there a way to prevent this? If not, how long do we have?’ ” recalls Cannon. “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.”

After discussing various treatments, including chemotherapy, Scott and Cannon — who has undergone chemotherapy himself for the autoimmune disease lupus — made the difficult decision to not pursue any further invasive procedures and focus on keeping their son “as happy as he could possibly be,” says Cannon.

“We were having quality-of-life conversations,” he says. “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.”

From there, Cannon, 41, and Scott, 28, a model and philanthropist, were determined to create moments of joy every day for Zen.

“We focused on Disneyland, our favorite place,” explains Cannon. “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.”

But over Thanksgiving weekend, things took a turn for the worse.

“You could tell he was struggling,” Cannon recalls. “He was gasping for air. 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.”

Cannon and Scott made the decision to spend a peaceful day with their son at the beach.

On Dec. 5, Zen took his last breath — with his mom and dad by his side.

“I see it as a blessing that I got to be there,” says Cannon. “Alyssa says, ‘I think he was just waiting for you.’ ”

Cannon first revealed the tragic news on his daytime talk show Nick Cannon on Dec. 7.

“We had a short time with a true angel,” says Cannon. “My heart is shattered. I wish I could have done more, spent more time with him, taken more pictures. I wish I could have hugged him longer.”

[From People]

This news is heartbreaking. First of all, our condolences to Nick and Alyssa. As someone who had to watch their mother overcome the grief of losing a six month old child (I was six at the time of my sister’s death), I can only imagine the pain that Nick and Alyssa are feeling. I am so sorry that they had to lose him in this way. It breaks my heart that Nick and Alyssa had to make such an immensely tough decision about their son’s life. Despite the devastation of the occasion, I am happy that both Nick and Alyssa were able to be there when Zen passed. I am sure Zen was surrounded by love from his family. I believe Nick when he said he feels shattered. My mom and I still have a void where my sister Krystal should have been, 39 years later. It does get easier, but the emptiness still remains. I hope that medicine will continue to advance over the next few years so that we can eliminate these diseases that are causing children and families to suffer. But in the meantime, if you are a parent and you feel like something is wrong with you or your child, don’t allow the medical system to brush your concerns off. Push until you get answers. And if you have lost a child, I send you love.

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23 Responses to “Nick Cannon on losing his five-month-old son: my heart is shattered”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    This is heartbreaking. I am so sorry for their loss. It sounds like he passed surrounded by love and that’s important.

    I’m sorry for your family too Oya.

  2. OriginalLaLa says:

    That is beyond tragic- cancer at 2 months old, childhood cancers are a scourge. Rest in peace little Zen.

  3. Bryn says:

    Sincere condolences to them and their families. I have immense respect for them.that they chose to not do chemo or other invasive treatments when it would only prolong this sweet baby’s suffering. I have a cousin who’s baby had a very similar illness, it was aggressive and they did treatment, it prolonged the baby’s life, but it wasn’t much of a life. The baby spent most of his time crying in immense pain or unconscious because of painkillers and all the drugs. It’s such a hard choice with no good outcome. My heart is with all the children suffering

  4. Noki says:

    They are parents who choose to continue the fight and hope for a miracle and then there are those who just cant bare the unknown suffering especially a baby is going through. Neither is easy and only ones going through this will ever know. Rest Well Sweet Angel.

  5. Amy T says:

    May Zen and Krystal’s memories be for a blessing and may their families be comforted. Losing a child was once described to me by an elderly person who’d buried a child this way: “It’s like losing a finger. Every time you look at your hand, you see what is no longer there.”

  6. Miranda says:

    God, I lost it when Nick talked about Zen not being able to breathe. I had whooping cough a few years back, which left me desperately gasping for air at times, and it was truly the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced. But I was 23 at the time and at least able to understand what was happening to me. I don’t even want to think about how scary it must have been for a tiny baby, and Nick and Alyssa must have felt so helpless. It sounds as though they gave Zen as happy a life as possible with what little time he had. So devastating. *Genuine* thoughts and prayers.

    • Jais says:

      I lost it at the same detail, Miranda. My heart goes out to them.

    • goofpuff says:

      Yes, I know. I just can’t imagine. Poor little baby. I feel so heartbroken for his parents. I can’t wait until we figure out how to cure cancer, especially childhood cancer.

  7. Sam the Pink says:

    I just felt so terrible for them on hearing the news. There is no way to rationalize it, no explanation for it. I have had friends who have watched their children go through serious disease (some have made it through okay, some have not), and I have seen what they do. They beg, they plead, they rage at God, they do all kinds of things. Nick and Alyssa were presented with untenable choices, and it sounds like they were able to make the best choices for them. I hope they have peace with their decisions and never regret anything. Zen was loved, and continues to be loved, you can tell.

  8. Liz Version 700 says:

    This is gut wrenching. I’m so sorry for Nick and Alyssa. What a helpless feeling it must have been to be able to go nothing to help their baby. I’m so sorry for you and your family too Oya. Grief is a brutal thing for a 6 year old to have to experience.

  9. Liz Version 700 says:

    This is gut wrenching. I’m so sorry for Nick and Alyssa. What a helpless feeling it must have been to be able to go nothing to help their baby. I’m so sorry for you and your family too Oya. Grief is a brutal thing for a 6 year old to have to experience.

  10. Steph says:

    It’s really sad. My heart goes out to them and you and your family, @Oya.

  11. Nikki* says:

    My deepest sympathy to them on the loss of their baby, and to you Oya, on the death of your sister and the shift of your mother as she coped with her pain. <3

  12. Veronika says:

    Gliomas are so aggressive.
    My best friend died from the same type of brain cancer in November. From diagnosis to her death was 7 months.
    She was 39 years old. She left behind 3 beautiful children & a husband.
    We are still living under a fog of grief.

  13. Tootsie McJingle says:

    My twins will be five months old in a couple of weeks. This hit me really hard. I can’t imagine losing a child at any age but the fact that Zen was close to my babies’ age just makes my heart ache for them.

  14. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    Sending love to you, Oya. My heart goes to you, Nick, and Alyssa. It’s so heartbreaking. My mom lost an 11-month-old daughter in the late 60s to a brain aneurysm. I was born in 1980 so only my 3 oldest siblings shared that loss with mom, while 3 of us were born after. It’s still terribly sad and any time we see her photos, we can’t help but think about what might have been.

    • Coco Bean says:

      Also sending love to families who have experienced this heart wrenching sorrow and grief. I was six when my little brother died at two months. Our family was forever changed and while you go on, there is always a before and after. Someone is missing and you wonder what they would’ve been like, what our family would’ve been like had they lived. Even though it was 35 years ago, I’m crying while writing this wishing he was still here. The loss is so great. Not just that he isn’t here anymore, but how the loss reverberates and affects and changes your entire family.

  15. AmelieOriginal says:

    How heartbreaking to lose a child so young. I especially feel for Alyssa Scott because I’m just assuming she spent the most time with Zen given Nick’s professional obligations and all his other kids. I’m glad they both got to say goodbye to him and spend Zen’s last few days with him together. I do wonder how this will affect Nick going forward, he went straight back to work after this happened. There is no right way to grieve.

    Also Oya my condolences on your and your mom’s loss. We never forget those we loved, no matter how short or how long their lives are.

  16. pinggu says:

    Oya, I always wanted to write that I am a huge fan of your posts because they are always so empathetic and thoughtful. I send you and your family lots of love too. You are a wonderful person with such a big heart <3

  17. BothSidesNow says:

    Sending you love Oya and to your Mother as well and all of your family members and those who deeply loved your sister.

    As for Nick and Alyssa, I can’t imagine a great pain than the loss of a child. I appreciate Nicks praise for Alyssa, as it’s immensely gut wrenching when we as women give birth as we hold a special bond with our children. It sounds like they made every day with Zen as beautiful as possible and I am certain that Zen felt all of the love he had around him. Zen is now an Angel and is no longer suffering.

    Cancer sucks. I absolutely hate it. I lost my darling, magnificent sister this past July to pancreatic cancer in only 9 months after her diagnosis. I am still grieving. I don’t think we ever get over those that we have lost.

  18. Ann says:

    They say there is nothing worse than losing a child, and I can believe it. My sister-in-law lost her first child to Tay Sachs disease when he was two. It’s incurable and the children inevitably die by age four, but some do choose to prolong their lives with intervention. She and her husband chose not to. She was four months pregnant with her second when he died, but part of her just wanted to crawl into her first-born’s grave with him. It was devastating.

    Peace for little Zen, poor baby, and his parents.

  19. Lucy2 says:

    Oya, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. And for Nick and Alyssa, what a heart breaking situation.
    My family is going through a similar loss as well, it is truly devastating. In a moment, all of your hopes and dreams and plans for the future can just disappear. There is just nothing worse.

  20. Mollie says:

    My mother never truly recovered after losing my brother. My heart aches for them. I’ll hug my children a little tighter tonight after reading this.