Nick Cannon Opens Up After Son Zen's Death About The ‘Biggest Guilt’ He Feels When It Comes To His Kids

Nick Cannon in hat and glasses on The Check Up With Dr. David Agus
(Image credit: Paramount+)

As one of the hardest working entertainers in the biz, The Masked Singer host Nick Cannon is known these days as much for fathering an ever-growing brood as for his multi-hyphenate career path. The year 2022 has delivered a lot of highs in that department, as the R&B singer celebrated the birth of four children — with the latest born on Nov. 11 — and another is still on the way. But the year hasn’t been all positive, unfortunately, as it kicked off with Cannon and Alyssa Scott still mourning the death of five-month-old son Zen, who succumbed to brain cancer in November 2021. A year later, the comedian has opened up about how he’s dealt with that dark time, and the guilt he feels sometimes when it comes to his role as a father.

Nick Cannon first went public with the news of Zen’s death on his short-lived talk show, where he spoke candidly about the infant’s diagnosis, and he embraced a somewhat similar format in looking back at the past year. Appearing on the medical chat series The Check Up with Dr. David Argus (available to stream with a Paramount+ subscription), Cannon addressed one of the only downsides to fatherhood in his particular case, saying:

Obviously, being a father of multiple kids, always the biggest guilt on me is I don’t get to spend enough time with all of my children. One, because I’m constantly working, and two, I’m just spread thin.

Clearly, there’s a necessity when it comes to Nick Cannon being such a busy person in Hollywood, and he somewhat recently addressed how much child support he’s responsible for, beyond everything else he provides for his kids and their mothers. But being such a busy, on-the-go celeb isn’t for everyone, as it’s not as easy as some might think to be constantly running on all cylinders. 

Cannon talked to Dr. David Argus about how being such an energetic, project-focused person didn’t entirely mesh with the idea of taking time to quietly grieve, but that he’s putting the effort in to recognize that part of himself. In his words: 

I’m learning. I’m allowing myself to grieve. Some days are easier, some days are a little more difficult. There’s a lot of guilt. I feel like it’s made me more compassionate. Shifted that guilt of whatever I couldn’t have done with Zen, I can apply to my other children.

Such complex guilt can be extremely difficult to wrangle with, so hopefully having so many kids to shower with love is genuinely helpful for him, and that he’s able to support Alyssa Scott in any way necessary. The pair founded the nonprofit organization Zen’s Light to focus on pediatric healthcare and helping families deal with acceptance and grief when in need. 

Nick Cannon, who recently dealt with his own hospital stay to fight off pneumonia,  shared that he feels no guilty regrets about his and Scott’s decision to forgo chemotherapy as a course of treatment for Zen’s brain cancer, though still allowing for quality-of-life procedures such as draining cranial fluid through a shunt. Having previously been diagnosed with lupus, and having suffered through those physically and mentally taxing treatments, Cannon said he couldn’t fathom putting someone so young through a similar situation without the guarantee of survival, saying: 

I don’t have any regrets with that, because seeing your son hooked up to all of those machines… Like I said, because he had to go in for a shunt like two or three times, and that was heartbreaking every time. And even in that short amount of time, I couldn’t imagine him having to go through chemo.

The fact that Cannon can speak about Zen’s death so openly will hopefully be an inspiration for other grieving parents who possibly don’t feel ready to speak to their own troublesome feelings.

All six episodes of The Check Up with Dr. David Argus are available to stream now on Paramount+, with other episodes featuring guest such as Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, Amy Schumer, Ashton Kutcher, and Oprah Winfrey.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.