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Toby Keith reveals he has been battling stomach cancer since last year

Honoree Toby Keith performs at the 46th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the Marriott Marquis on June 18, 2015, in New York. Keith announced Sunday, June 12, 2022, that he has been undergoing treatment for stomach cancer since last fall. The multi-platinum-selling singer said on Twitter that he underwent surgery and received chemotherapy and radiation in the past six months. Evan Agostini/AP Photos

Country music star Toby Keith announced on Sunday that he has been secretly battling stomach cancer for many months.

Keith wrote in a statement that was posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts that he has known about his cancer diagnosis since late last fall and has been undergoing treatment for the last six months.

But despite receiving “chemo, radiation and surgery,” the country star is still planning to return to the stage soon.

“So far, so good,” said Keith, an Oklahoma native who turns 61 on July 8. “I need time to breathe, recover and relax.”

“I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait.”

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The status of Keith’s performances for the remainder of this year wasn’t immediately clear.

According to his official website, Keith is slated to perform next on June 17 at Ribfest in Wheaton, Ill., but his July 28 show at the Ohio State Fair has been cancelled following the disclosure of Keith’s cancer battle.

Keith’s publicist, Elaine Schock, said in an email Sunday night that some tour dates will be cancelled, “but I’m not sure how many at this point.”

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Keith has two upcoming tour dates in Canada: a July 22 show in Winnipeg and a performance in Thunder Bay on July 23.

The long-time country music idol has 32 No. 1 singles in the U.S. and is best known for hits including Red Solo Cup and I Wanna Talk About Me. Keith released his debut album in 1993 and became a household name in the aftermath of 9/11 with the release of his 2002 song Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American). 

In 2021, Keith was awarded the National Medal of Arts by then-president Donald Trump — the highest award for artistic achievement given by the U.S. government.

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Keith has been active in assisting children with cancer since 2006, when he started the Toby Keith Foundation to “encourage the health and happiness of pediatric cancer patients.”

In 2014, the foundation opened the OK Kids Korral, a cost-free home where the families of pediatric cancer patients can stay while their loved one receives treatment at nearby medical facilities.

— With files from The Associated Press

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