Nick Cannon wasn't so sure he wanted to tell the world about his son's death. On Thursday's episode of his eponymous talk show, the 41-year-old host revealed why he was hesitant to share the tragic news that his and Alyssa Scott's son, Zen, died of brain cancer at five months old.
"I've been torn to come to work, get out of bed sometimes. But… the beauty of comedy, the beauty of humor, is to bring joy to people even in their toughest times. That's our job as artists, entertainers, specifically even comedians, is to bring smiles to people," Cannon began. "… I still want to be able to make you smile. When you smile, I smile, and I think that's the energy that we need."
Even after he made the decision to continue on with his show, Cannon said he was "a little scared to share the information about Zen" for a two reasons.
"Initially, just because I knew it is difficult to keep it all together," he said. "But then the thing that I still struggle with every day, is that I never want to feel exploited. I never want to feel like I'm using this as content. I'm definitely not a woe-is-me type of person. I'm usually a kind of guy that keeps it all in and I'm like, 'I'm good,' even though I'm not good."
Cannon said that he's come to learn, however, that being open about his loss has been beneficial.
"Over the last few days, there's just been an outpouring of so much love," he said. "Somebody wrote me… 'You've just got to let people love on you.' As uncomfortable as that is, I'm accepting it. I'm used to hugging people when they have a hard time, and now people are actually hugging me. It feels good. Thank you for that. I'm gonna let y'all love on me."
Not only has the public support helped him, but it has also helped others who are going through similar struggles.
"I had no idea that by sharing this and attempting to come here and attempting to be strong, that it was gonna help so many people," Cannon said. "… I'm a little scared of it, because it is almost like, 'I didn't sign up for this.' It's almost like a new life's calling. It's another purpose."
"Zen has opened our eyes and given us another opportunity to have a different purpose, to help other people. His light will forever shine," he added. "… I want to continue to be that conduit. I want this to be a place where people can talk about anything, and feel like it is a safe place to be vulnerable… This is my ministry. And I thank you. I accept a calling to be the conduit, to hopefully smile through the pain, bring the light, that's why we are here."
As for Scott, Cannon said that she's "continuing to be strong," and praised her for the "beautiful" Instagram tribute she posted on Wednesday.
"These last 5 months we have been in this race together. We would hand the baton off to each other," she wrote in part. "You kept me going. It would be the middle of the night and you would smile at me. A surge of energy would fill my body and pure joy would radiate from within me. We were a team, both determined to see it through."
"It feels unbearable running without you now. I can’t. And in this moment I feel myself being carried. By your sister.. By God. By complete strangers encouraging me to not give up," Scott continued. "It has been an honor and privilege being your mommy.. I will love you for eternity."
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Cannon previously shared that Zen was diagnosed hydrocephalus, which Mayo Clinic describes as "the buildup of fluid in the cavities (ventricles) deep within the brain… [which] increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain."
Zen underwent brain surgery and had a shunt inserted to drain the fluid, but things soon took a turn for the worse on Thanksgiving, when "the tumor began to grow a lot faster."
On Wednesday, a source told ET that Cannon is focused on supporting Scott amid this challenging time.
"His friends are rallying around him and just want to be there for him because they know this type of pain will impact him for the rest of his life," the source said. "Those closest to him are reaching out to offer their help and give him their condolences. Nick appreciates the support but at the moment he just wants to be there for Zen's mother."
"Nick's entire life has become only family and work," the source continued. "He wants nothing more than to honor the time he had with Zen and to focus on being there for Alyssa. He feels lucky to have had the little time he did with his son, but even more so a sense of relief Zen is in peace. Nick is incredibly spiritual and that has helped to guide him through this but he knows the true healing will take time."
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