"I want to thank the almighty for allowing me to be here tonight..."
In July, Toby Keith returned to the stage after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. He shared the shock diagnosis in June 2022. A year later, he surprised fans with rehearsals, an update on his health and a two-and-a-half-hour concert.
“Toby‘s first rehearsal turned into a 2 1/2 hour pop-up show. He sang all the hits plus the Bus Songs… Toby is back!” the social media post read, which included images of him looking visibly happy on stage.
“I’ve got more wind,” he said about his recovery earlier this year, telling The Oklahoman that the cancer was still present at the time but had shrunk by a third. “And I’m thinking about bringing the band in and setting up, playing two or three days somewhere just to see if I can get through two hours.”
He continued, “All I gotta do is see if I can get through two or three nights of work and get a little break in this chemo, and we’ll go back to work.”
Keith is candid about his experience with cancer, and on Thursday (28 September), he brought the audience at the inaugural People’s Choice Country Music Awards some laughs while addressing his diagnosis.
“Bet you thought you'd never see me in skinny jeans,” Keith said, per TMZ, referring to his weight loss following cancer treatment upon accepting the Country Music Icon Award from country star Blake Shelton. TMZ reports that the comment led to the audience breaking out into laughter.
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Keith continued, “I want to thank the almighty for allowing me to be here tonight. You've been riding shotgun with me for a little while.” Acknowledging his hardworking team and devoted family, he added, “A lot of people go into making a big career like this of 30 years”.
In an interview with E! News on the red carpet for the first-ever People’s Choice Music Awards, Keith told the press he was feeling “pretty good”, explaining that “You get good days and, you know, you’re up and down, up and down. It’s always zero to 60 and 60 to zero, but I feel good today.”