Toby Keith Plays Two Shows Amid Cancer Treatment
- Country music singer Toby Keith, 61, returned to the stage as he continues cancer treatment, performing hours-long concerts featuring his biggest patriotic hits in his native state of Oklahoma over the weekend.
- Keith has made sporadic public appearances since revealing he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021, but this is the biggest show he’s put on since the news.
- The award-winning singer is currently undergoing chemotherapy and immunotherapy (which uses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer). He recently revealed he’s “feeling pretty good” .”
- Many fans noticed Keith has lost some weight since his cancer battle began. Cancer treatment often comes with side effects that can impact your physical appearance. Fortunately, some of the changes are temporary and there are ways to manage and cope with these side effects.
After being diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021 and taking time off to focus on his health, country music singer Toby Keith, 61, returned to the stage, showering Oklahoma crowds with two concerts and a bit of patriotism ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
"I've been on the lam for a year and a halfâ€¦but we're coming back!" Keith said with a red solo cup in hand before a big crowd sang along.
@bolfagirrl Still camt belive i was there!!! #tobykeith #cancersucks #oklahoma #music #countrymusic #country #foryoupage #omg â™¬ original sound – Stephanie Cevallos Bolfa
Keith's most recent performance follows an increasing number of public appearances by the famous country music star. Keith recently shared his stomach cancer treatment is going well, claiming he's "feeling pretty good" in an interview with Country Now.
God bless this country. God bless Toby Keith. And god bless our troops. ðŸ‡ºðŸ‡¸ pic.twitter.com/jAWFp7KJmv
Terry Yaki (@Gustavochiggin) July 1, 2023
The "Red Solo Cup" singer dazzled the crowd, including fan Stephanie Bolfa, who shared a video on TikTok. She couldn't believe he appeared to perform.
"Prayers he overcomes! My God I didn't recognize him," TikTok user Maureen commended.
"Toby was the perfect epitome of a cowboyâ€¦The BEST patriot," TikTok user Amanda added.
Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy
Toby Keith recently said he is currently undergoing chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment for his cancer. It’s important to know how these treatments can affect the body.
"The side effects of immunotherapy are not forever. Depending upon the severity depends upon how we manage it," medical oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology & Medical Oncology Dr. Anna Pavlick said.
WATCH: Side effects from immunotherapy can be managed.
"There are some patients who will get diarrhea, and we can give them treatments to calm down their diarrhea and it lasts a couple of days. It might be sporadic over a couple of weeks. But there are patients who will get colitis, and those are patients that require intravenous medicines to stop the diarrhea," Dr. Pavlick continued.
Common immunotherapy side effects may include:
- Nausea or stomach discomfort
- Joint pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in blood cell counts
If you experience severe side effects, your doctor may need to temporarily or permanently stop your immunotherapy treatment. The goal of immunotherapy is to harness the body's own immune system to fight cancer. However, not every person can tolerate the treatment.
Part of Keith's treatment also includes chemotherapy although we don't know exactly what kind of chemo treatment he's receiving. More broadly, chemotherapy also comes with side effects. Similarly to immunotherapy, chemo side effects can be managed.
"Chemotherapy that we give currently is not the chemotherapy from days gone by," says Dr. Matthew Carlson, a gynecologic oncologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Patients are not vomiting and stuck in bed for weeks on end or coming into the hospital."
WATCH: Managing chemotherapy side effects.
According to the National Cancer Institute, chemotherapy side effects can be wide-ranging. Some of them include:
- Appetite loss
- Bleeding and bruising
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Hair loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin and nail changes
Dr. Carlson says the best way to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy is to prepare. He offers some examples of helpful ways to manage chemo side effects:
For nausea, doctors will usually prescribe effective medications, such as Zofran, to help.
"We have many, many, many medications that we give before, during, and after chemotherapy that should minimize nausea that patients experience," Dr. Carlson said, adding that there are also quite a few medications available for constipation and diarrhea, though doctors may recommend dietary modifications first.
To manage feelings of fatigue, while there aren't quite as many medications the way there are for nausea, Dr. Carlson says some patients find it helpful to complement their treatment with supplements such as American Ginseng.
Mount Sinai says the American ginseng root helps "headaches, fever, indigestion, and infertility."
To manage hair loss, Dr. Carlson candidly says, "We can't keep you with a full head of hair through your chemotherapy," Dr. Carlson said.
Hair loss can be expected with the chemo drugs commonly used for ovarian cancer, carboplatin, and Taxol. But just like with the other side effects, there are methods available to help. Another silver lining with hair loss, once chemo treatment finishes, your hair begins to regrow.
In the meantime, look towards wigs, scarves, caps, and cutting your hair short to help cope with hair loss. Scalp-cooling devices, which can prevent some (though not all) hair loss may be an option.
How to Cope with Your New Body After Cancer
Some fans also noticed Toby Keith’s different appearance, pointing out how he looked noticeably thinner than in previous years. This kind of body changes and weight loss can be a side effect of cancer treatment.
Psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin shares with SurvivorNet some additional tips cancer warriors can explore to help manage the emotional toll body changes can have during treatment.
Dr. Strongin encourages cancer warriors to take ownership of the part (or parts) of their body mostly impacted by cancer treatment. She says although they may represent "fear and pain," they also represent "strength and courage."
Cancer Treatment Side Effects
"Research has found that when looking in the mirror we are more likely to focus on the parts of our body we are dissatisfied with which causes us to have a negative self-view and lower self-esteem. Therefore, I would like for you to first spend time gazing at the parts of your body you love give them time, honor them, and then thank them," Dr. Strongin said.
Dr. Strongin then suggests looking at the part or parts of your body impacted by the cancer or cancer treatment. She recommends creating a regular practice of accepting your body image, because it helps you accept your cancer journey emotionally and physically.
"As you allow yourself to spend more time looking at all of you, you will begin having a new relationship with your body. It may not happen immediately, but with time you can begin honoring and thanking your new body.
Cancer.net recommends letting others support you and provide help when needed. Having people like family, friends, support groups, or caregivers by your side during a difficult time can help prevent you from feeling alone, as well as offer you hope.
Seeking advice from your healthcare team can also help prepare you for what you should expect following your cancer treatments, allowing you to understand what is normal or not.
Other ways Cancer.net says may help you cope include:
- Working with a mental health professional
- Maintaining physical fitness
- Allow yourself time to adjust