Nick Cannon is opening up about the final moments he shared with his seventh and youngest child, Zen Scott Cannon, before the 5-month-old baby boy passed away.
Since the 41-year-old multimedia personality broke the devastating news to the world on his Dec. 7 episode of The Nick Cannon Show, he has been processing his grief by speaking openly about it with his audience, viewers and fans. He also got a tattoo in honor of his "angel."
In a new interview with People, Cannon revealed he and Zen's mother – 28-year-old model Alyssa Scott – actually suspected something was wrong a few days after the baby was born but that doctors were not initially worried.
He said their "super calm" child's breathing patterns seemed off, explaining that "it sounded like he had fluid in his lungs, like a sinus infection or something. [The doctors] didn't think it to be anything too concerning."
Two months later, however, doctors determined that Zen's head was "growing a little too quickly." Nick and Alyssa were told that their baby boy had a high-grade glioma, which is a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.
Doctors placed a shunt in Zen's skull to drain excess fluid and alleviate pressure, but the tumor continued to grow.
"We started asking, 'Is there a way to prevent this? If not, how long do we have?'" recalled Cannon. "The conversations quickly turned to, 'How can we give him the best life for the time that he does have?' It could be weeks, it could be months, it could be years."
He said he and Scott discussed various treatment options, including chemotherapy, which he once underwent for the autoimmune disease, lupus. The options for Baby Zen were all invasive.
After numerous conversations, Nick said they decided that the cons outweighed the pros and chose to focus on keeping their son "as happy as he could possibly be."
"We were having quality-of-life conversations," he explained. "We could have had that existence where he would've had to live in the hospital, hooked up to machines, for the rest of the time. From someone who's had to deal with chemotherapy before, I know that pain. To see that happen to a 2-month-old, I didn't want that. I didn't want him to suffer."
So they channeled their energy into creating moments of joy.
"We focused on Disneyland, our favorite place," explained Cannon. "Every month we would celebrate his birthday, just really seeing it as a victory every time he had a milestone that he was still here with us."
As he said on his show, it was over the Thanksgiving weekend that things took a turn for the worse, elaborating to People, "You could tell he was struggling. He was gasping for air. We'd wake up, and he wouldn't be breathing for maybe five to 10 seconds at a time, and then he'd let out a huge gasp. You could see it frightened him. It was the scariest thing I've ever experienced."
After spending the following weekend with his son and saying his goodbyes, something inside Nick told him to turn back around and spend a peaceful day with Zen and Alyssa on the beach.
"I was like, 'We have to watch the sun rise and just be there with him one last time,'" he told the outlet. "It was beautiful."
Hours later, Zen took his last breath with his parents by his side.
"I see it as a blessing that I got to be there," said Nick, adding that Alyssa told him, "I think he was just waiting for you."
While Cannon and Scott are processing the loss in different ways, they both feel it is a "privilege" to have been chosen as Zen's father and mother.
"We had a short time with a true angel," said the grieving dad. "My heart is shattered. I wish I could have done more, spent more time with him, taken more pictures. I wish I could have hugged him longer."
"He was the most loving baby," he added. "I look at being his father as a great privilege."
Via a written statement, Alyssa told People, "It was a privilege being Zen's mommy. It's so beautiful and encouraging to see even complete strangers being touched and moved by Zen's light. Zen's spirit and light will shine bright forever."