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Nick Cannon recalls moment of son’s cancer diagnosis and how they spent final months

The TV personality and his child's mother, Alyssa Scott, decided against further invasive treatment for their son because they "didn't want him to suffer."
/ Source: TODAY

Nick Cannon is sharing how he and Alyssa Scott made the heart-wrenching decision not to pursue any more invasive treatment for their baby son to focus on his final days before his death from a malignant brain tumor earlier this month.

The TV personality and former "America's Got Talent" host spoke to People for the cover story of its Dec. 27 issue about the tragic death on Dec. 5 of his 5-month-old son, Zen, with Scott, a model and philanthropist.

Cannon, 41, said chemotherapy for Zen was discussed after he was diagnosed in August with glioma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. Cannon has experience with chemotherapy himself from his treatment for lupus, an autoimmune disease.

“We were having quality-of-life conversations,” he told People. "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 Cannon speaks about the death of his 5-month-old son from a brain tumor in the cover story of the Dec. 27 issue of People.People

Zen had already undergone surgery to have a shunt placed in his skull to drain fluid buildup after being diagnosed with hydrocephalus, an enlarged head, as a result of the malignant brain tumor. Scott and Cannon had first noticed something was wrong when his breathing indicated there was fluid in his lungs.

“We started asking, ‘Is there a way to prevent this? If not, how long do we have?’ " Cannon said. “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 and Scott, 28, focused on keeping their son "as happy as he could possibly be," including a special trip to a cherished destination.

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

His condition dramatically worsened over Thanksgiving weekend. The couple spent one last day with their son at the beach ahead of his death.

“I was like, ‘We have to watch the sun rise and just be there with him one last time,’" Cannon said. “It was beautiful.” 

“It was a privilege being Zen’s mommy," Scott said in a statement to People. "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.”

Cannon shared on his talk show last week that he got a tattoo on his ribs of Zen as an angel with wings and a halo. Scott also shared pictures and a video of their baby boy on her Instagram stories following his death.

Scott and Cannon were both by the boy's side when he died.

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