On Tuesday's episode of The Nick Cannon Show, Nick Cannon tearfully shared that his youngest child, five-month-old son Zen, has passed away.
He shared a sweet photo of baby Zen while explaining that he was recently diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, a condition that causes an excess of fluid build-up in the deep ventricles of the brain. Zen, who Cannon shares with model Alyssa Scott, was just born in June of this year.
"I always noticed he had a cough and so I wanted to check it out," he explained on the show. "He had this interesting breathing and by the time he was two months I noticed he had this nice sized head too—a Cannon head. We didn’t think anything of it. But I wanted to take him to the doctor for his sinus and breathing. We thought it would be routine."
After the diagnosis, Cannon said he and Scott tried to keep things as normal as possible for Zen and their other children.
"Zen's mom, Alyssa, was just the strongest woman I've ever seen," he said. "Never had an argument, never was angry. Was emotional when she needed to be but always the best mom, and continues to be the best mom."
Cannon and Scott were told by doctors that Zen had a brain tumor, and it was malignant. Shortly after receiving the cancer diagnosis, the baby underwent surgery to implement a shunt to drain the fluid.
Tragically, baby Zen's health took a turn for the worse over Thanksgiving.
"This weekend I made an effort to spend the most quality time with Zen," Cannon explained while growing emotional. "We woke up on Sunday and went to the ocean with him and Alyssa and then I had to fly back to New York for the show. "I got a call on my way to the airport to head back to Zen."
According to the National Cancer Institute, childhood cancers represent less than 1% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. Leukemia is the most common form of pediatric cancer, but brain and spinal cord tumors are the second-most common cancer in children. The American Cancer Society says more than 4,000 brain and spinal cord tumors are diagnosed annually in children and teens in the U.S. Most children with brain tumors live at least five years after being diagnosed, though the prognosis greatly depends on the type of tumor, where it's located, and other contributing factors.
Cannon said that he held his son for the last time this past weekend. He told the live audience that he came to work this week because "this is all he knows," and he wanted to honor Zen.
"You can't heal until you feel," Cannon told his audience on Tuesday. Entertainment Tonight reports that Cannon will be taking time off from the show following this utterly devastating loss.
Currently, less than 4% of the federal budget for cancer research is allocated to childhood cancer. You can learn more about how to get involved with childhood cancer research fundraisers or ways to donate to research at the Children's Cancer Research Fund.
We're sending all the love in the world to Cannon, Zen's mama, and Zen's entire family.