Country Singer Toby Keith’s Battle With Stomach Cancer in His Own Words: ‘It’s Debilitating’
After Toby Keith was first diagnosed with stomach cancer, he’s been focused on fighting the illness.
“Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer,” the “Red Solo Cup” crooner wrote via Instagram in June 2022, noting his intentions to take a performance hiatus as he recuperates. “I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax.”
As Keith — who married Tricia Lucus in 1984, with whom he shares three children — recovered from his medical procedures, he remained open about his difficult battle.
“I’m thinking about getting back in fighting shape,” the Oklahoma native said during an interview on CMT Hot 20 Countdown the following December. “I need a little time to just rest up and heal up.”
He added: “It’s pretty debilitating to have to go through all that, but as long as everything stays hunky-dory, then we’ll look at something good in the future.”
The Grammy Award nominee — who shares daughters Shelley and Krystal and son Stelen with his wife — rose to fame in April 1993 with the release of his self-titled debut album. Toby Keith notably featured the chart-topping single “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.”
“I think we were actually at the Long Branch Saloon or Miss Kitty’s Saloon — it was something to do with Gunsmoke,” Keith recalled of his songwriting process for “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” during a December 2018 interview with Billboard. “This highway patrolman who I had met on the trip, his name was John, he jumps up. He was probably 45 or 50 back then, and he runs over to this 25-year-old cowgirl. He was going to show that he could bust a move. She turns him down. He comes over, and said, ‘She says she doesn’t dance.’ About 15 minutes later, a young cowboy comes in — and off they go on the dance floor. Everybody was making fun of him, and one of the guys said, ‘John, I guess you should have been a cowboy.’”
He continued at the time: “I thought, ‘I betcha never heard Marshal Dillon have any woman problems because Miss Kitty was always knocking his back door down.’ I just started writing it, and it grew into Jesse James riding shotgun, and Gene and Roy. It all happened in about 20 minutes.”
The Broken Bridges actor has continued to make music through the years, releasing 19 albums and two holiday LPs. Keith’s lasting career has gone on to inspire countless other recording artists, who have offered their support amid his health scare.
“I’ve talked to some people in his circle,” Trace Adkins told Extra in August 2022. “His spirits are high, he’s doing as well as can be expected from what I hear.”
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Scroll below for more of Keith’s quotes about her cancer battle:
Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP/Shutterstock
Receiving His Diagnosis
Keith announced on June 12, 2022, that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in fall 2021. “I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good,” he wrote via Instagram at the time.
Time to ‘Breathe’ After Treatment
After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, the Beer for My Horses star announced that he was taking a break from performing and making new music.
“I need time to breathe, recover and relax,” he wrote in June 2022. “I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait.”
Credit: Courtesy of Toby Keith/Instagram
Plenty of Support
“Thank you for all your love and support. I have the best fans in the world,” the “I Love This Bar” performer gushed via Instagram on June 14, 2022, days after sharing his diagnosis.
Staying in ‘High Spirits’
As Keith continued to privately battle his cancer, Adkins offered a health update — and was rooting for his pal’s recovery.
“I haven’t gotten to talk to him, I’ve talked to some people in his circle,” the Monarch star told Extra in August 2022. “His spirits are high, he’s doing as well as can be expected from what I hear. Toby is tougher than a $5 steak, he’s gonna be alright. I love Toby.”
A ‘Debilitating’ Battle
Keith opened up about his treatment for the first time in December 2022, telling the CMT Hot 20 Countdown hosts that he found his health journey to be “pretty debilitating” as he recuperated.
He said at the time: “I’m thinking about getting back in fighting shape. I need a little time to just rest up and heal up.”