Nick Cannon Opens Up About Baby Zen's Passing: I Wish I Could've Done More

By Emily Lee

December 15, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this month, Nick Cannon shared the devastating news that his 5-month-old son, Zen, passed away after a short battle with brain cancer. He revealed Zen's passing on The Nick Cannon Show, dedicating the broadcast to his "beautiful son."

Cannon has now sat down with People to open up about his grief following the loss of his youngest child. He also shared details of Zen's diagnosis, which may help other parents recognize these symptoms. "It sounded like he had fluid in his lungs, like a sinus infection or something," Cannon recalled. "[The doctors] didn't think it to be anything too concerning."

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, Zen's doctors became increasingly concerned about his health, especially as his head was "growing a little too quickly." Not long after that, the infant was diagnosed with high-grade glioma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer where tumors are found in both the brain and spinal cord. "These tumors can grow and spread quickly," Zen's doctor, Dr. Joffre E. Olaya, told the outlet. "They are very difficult to treat."

Though Cannon and Zen's mom, Alyssa Scott, hoped they would be able to treat and cure their son, this tragically was not the case. "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," he said.

"We were having quality-of-life conversations," Cannon continued. "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 and Scott made as many happy memories with Zen as they possibly could. "We focused on Disneyland, our favorite place," he shared. "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."

Following Thanksgiving weekend, Zen's health took a turn for the worse. "You could tell he was struggling," Cannon recalled. "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."

On Zen's last day, Cannon and Scott took their baby boy to the beach. "I was like, 'We have to watch the sunrise and just be there with him one last time. It was beautiful," he said. "I see it as a blessing that I got to be there. Alyssa says, 'I think he was just waiting for you.' "

For now, Cannon is simply trying to live through his own grief while still appreciating the time he got to spend with Zen. "We had a short time with a true angel," Cannon said. "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."

"He was the most loving baby," he added. "I look at being his father as a great privilege."

In addition to Zen, Cannon to six other children. He shares 5-month-old twins, Zion Mixolydian and Zillion Heir, with Abby De La Rosa. With Brittany Bell, Cannon shares 11-month-old daughter Powerful Queen and 4-year-old son Golden. His oldest children, 10-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe, he shares with ex-wife Mariah Carey.

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