In a new interview, Nick Cannon opened up about his decision to give his late infant son Zen Scott Cannon the best quality of life he could instead of putting him through challenging chemotherapy sessions.
Earlier this month, Cannon announced to the world that he lost 5-month old Zen after a battle with a brain tumor. Nick said that he and Zen’s mom, Alyssa Scott, began to worry about their newborn days after his arrival in late June due to Zen’s breathing patterns appearing to be abnormal. Then just a few weeks later Zen was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, and doctors discovered that he had a high-grade glioma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.
“These tumors can grow and spread quickly,”
Dr. Joffre E. Olaya, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s Hospital of Orange County who treated Zen told PEOPLE about Cannon and Scott’s late child. According to Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, they are rare, accounting for 8 to 12 percent of all childhood brain tumors, and their cause remains unknown. “They are very difficult to treat.”
The shocking diagnosis led to the parents having plenty of questions, of course, with Nick eventually concluding that Zen deserved to live without suffering.
“We started asking, ‘Is there a way to prevent this?,” Cannon recalled to PEOPLE. “If not, how long do we have?’ 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.
Cannon, who was diagnosed with the extremely taxing autoimmune disease Lupus in 2012 and has undergone chemotherapy treatments himself, added that his difficulties with chemo aided in his decision.
“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.”
Nick went on to tell the publication that he and Alyssa treated baby Zen’s final days as a celebration.
“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.”
Alyssa Scott also sent over a statement to PEOPLE noting the brilliance of her son’s “light.”
“It was a privilege being Zen’s mommy. It’s so beautiful and encouraging to see even complete strangers being touched and moved by Zen’s light. Zen’s spirit and light will shine bright forever.”
R.I.P. baby Zen Scott Cannon.