Despite all of our hopes and prayers, Toby Keith’s battle against stomach cancer doesn’t appear to be a winning one. A year ago, we learned of “The Big Dog Daddy’s” diagnosis. Since then, he’s undergone arduous surgery along with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. His entire 2022 touring schedule was canceled as the 61-year-old country superstar battled privately. Then, during The Breeder’s Cup in Lexington, Kentucky, the first week in November, Toby Keith reemerged. According to msn.com, he took the stage at a a friend’s steakhouse “to prove to himself that he could still do it.”
Look, NO ONE undergoes what Toby Keith has undergone and comes out looking like a million bucks. That being said, this was a hard watch. Toby Keith is a monster of a man. When I first met him, he was just a couple of years removed from trying out for a professional football team. He stands 6′ 3″ and was always somewhere between 220 and 240 pounds. Toby Keith is a pussycat of a guy, but still physically intimidating. That’s not the guy we see here. He looks to have lost at least 50 pounds and that slouching posture is not his usual. Also, with the surgery he’s had, eating (and thereby putting on weight) is difficult. Later in that same aforementioned msn.com article a friend confided, “He’s more than four months removed from his treatments, but you can tell his body isn’t recovering. You really fear the worst for him.” And although just him being on stage shows he has some energy coming back, the fact remains that stomach cancer is generally fatal. Most who are diagnosed pass within two years. I hope so much this is not the case with Toby Keith. Not only has he been a great country artist, but I can make a pretty good argument that no artist of any genre has done more for our troops in the last 25 years than Toby Keith. His patriotic, charitable soul is one whose loss I and we aren’t prepared for.