Toby Keith Opens Up About His Cancer Battle And Decades-Long Career

News On 6's Robin Marsh sat down for an exclusive interview with country music superstar Toby Keith, where he opens up about his decades-long career and recent battle with cancer.

Wednesday, January 24th 2024, 10:45 pm

By: News On 6, Robin Marsh, Anna Denison

Toby Keith is known for his extensive catalog of chart-topping hits, but in recent years, he has been quietly fighting a personal battle against cancer. 

The country music star from Moore has 42 top-ten hits, 32 number-one songs, 40 million albums sold, more than ten billion streams, and is among the world's top 5 richest country singers. 

His career has spanned over three decades, even singing the theme song for our sister station News 9 in Oklahoma City in the early years of his career. 

In 2021, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and became noticeably thinner.

“It’s a lot of dark hallways,” Keith said. 

When asked if he was doing okay, he said, “I am.” 

Still in treatment, Keith has undergone surgeries, chemo, and radiation and says it has been a long journey for him and his family. 

“Cancer is a roller coaster, so it's like, you just sit here and wait on it to go away, and it may not ever go away,” Keith said. “If it goes into remission, it will still be in the back of your mind.” 

He said he has maneuvered through his diagnosis by relying on faith. 

“You take it for granted on the days that things are good, and you lean on it when days are bad,” Keith said. “It has taught me to lean on a little more every day.” 

He said there have been times that he experienced peace that defies all understanding. 

“I was going through all the chemo, radiation, surgery, and I got to the point where I was comfortable with whatever happened. I had my brain wrapped around it, and I was in a good spot either way,” Keith said. 

He said he would not have been able to get to that place without his faith. 

Through his journey with cancer, he said there had been unexpected blessings like finding a deeper appreciation for his wife, Tricia, and his family. 

“She’s been a trooper. She stepped right in, took control, and said, ‘We got this,’” Keith said. 

Amidst his health battle, Keith was honored with a People’s Choice Icon Award in 2023, where he performed the song “Don’t Let The Old Man In.” 

He originally wrote the song for Clint Eastwood, who told Keith he is still working at 88 years old because he does not let his age limit him. 

He said the song, about how time affects everyone, has a new meaning to him, given his health. 

He said his favorite lyrics of the song are: 

“My body’s weathered and worn.
Ask yourself how old you would be if you didn’t know the day you were born.” 

The song hit number one on the charts the next day, but Keith said the song was four years old. 

“The moment was perfect, too, and so it found its home,” Keith said. 

The second part of Robin Marsh’s interview with Toby Keith will air Thursday at 10 p.m. 

Related Story: Exclusive Interview With Toby Keith: A Look At His Career From The Beginning


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