Finding Purpose Amid Health Challenges
- Country music star Toby Keith, 61, is a staunch supporter of the U.S. military and encouraged his online followers to do the same in honor of National Armed Forces Day.
- Keith, 61, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2021. The cancer warrior said he underwent six months of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
- Keith has largely stepped back from public activities since his diagnosis, but his support for the military is unwavering.
- Stomach cancer or gastric cancer happens when cancer cells begin in the inner lining of the stomach.
- Stomach cancer is often treated depending on the cancer's location and if it has spread to other parts of your body. Options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
Singer Toby Keith, 61, has a long history of staunchly supporting our brave military members. The country music star has left an impact on more than 250,000 troops over the last two decades. Although Keith is in a fight of his own with stomach cancer, his support for the brave men and women wearing the uniform remains unwavering.
Since 2002, Keith has performed in 17 countries including the Middle East for our troops, according to the United Service Organization, a non-profit that supports troops (famously putting on concerts for them from big performers).Read More
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"Let's raise one up to the men and women serving our country," the award-winning country music singer wrote in a recent Instagram post.
Keith has a few songs dedicated to the military, including the firey anthem “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” which he wrote after the 9/11 attacks. That song was inspired by his dad, who was an Army veteran, and became one of Keith’s biggest successes.
He also released the song “American Soldier” in 2003. It’s a slower but just as passionate ode to the sacrifices made by our troops.
"Keith has been a favorite with the military community since the 2002 release of 'Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)'," wrote Samantha Quigley, Editor in Chief of USO's Magazine “On Patrol.”
Keith was awarded the Spirit of the USO Award in 2014 for his dedication to U.S. service members.
Keith's benevolence extends far and wide. He also has a foundation bearing his namesake that raises money for people in need, including children battling cancer.
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Despite Keith's ongoing efforts to give back to others, he's in quite the battle himself with stomach cancer. He described his cancer journey as "pretty debilitating" in an interview last year with Page Six.
Toby Keith's Cancer Journey
Toby Keith was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2021. The "Red Solo Cup" singer has not said much publicly about his cancer journey outside of limited interviews and announcing it on his social media last year.
Toby Keith (@tobykeith) June 12, 2022
Keith told Country Music Television in an interview, "I need a little bit of time to just rest up and heal up."
"I'm thinking about getting back to fighting shapeâ€¦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," he added.
The brave singer underwent six months of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. He had to cancel scheduled concerts following his diagnosis so he could focus on his recovery.
Despite his own cancer battle, Keith maintains a grateful and positive mindset. He is still hosting his annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic tournament to raise money for kids in need this summer.
And his support for our troops continues online even though he's scaled back his travels at this time.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you or a loved one are faced with cancer and wondering how treatment may affect your life, here are some questions you may consider asking your doctor to help get the conversation started:
- What are the potential side effects of my treatment?
- How will treatment affect my ability to continue my usual activities?
- Are there ways to manage side effects of the treatment?
- When would I be able to get back to normal activities?
- I’d like to find other ways to occupy my time while going through treatment. Are there resources that can help me find activities that make sense for me?
Understanding Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer or gastric cancer occurs when cancer cells begin in the inner lining of the stomach, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The American Cancer Society estimates "about 26,500 new cases of stomach cancer" this year.
"Experts believe most stomach cancers start when something hurts the inside lining of the stomach," according to Mayo Clinic.
Stomach cancer is often treated depending on the cancer's location and if it has spread to other parts of your body. Typical treatment options include:
- Surgery involves removing cancer cells from the lining of the stomach.
- Chemotherapy uses medications designed to kill cancer cells.
- Radiation uses high-energy X-rays or protons to kill cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy involves using your body's immune system to kill cancer cells.
- Targeted drug therapy involves targeting specific chemicals found within cancer cells.
- Palliative care (management of symptoms)
WATCH: Cancer warriors should remember to keep their options open when considering treatment.
Some common symptoms of stomach cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:
- Belly pain
- Feeling full after eating small amounts of food
- Feeling bloated after eating
- Trouble swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling fatigued
- Black stools
Finding a Positive Mindset During a Cancer Journey
The American Cancer Society says stomach cancer risk factors may include:
- Gender, as men are more likely to develop the disease
- Age, as people are more likely to develop the disease in their 60s, 70s, and 80s
- Ethnicity, as people of color are more likely to get it than non-Hispanic white people
- A high-sodium diet
- Excessive alcohol and tobacco use
- Family history of stomach cancer