‘I Just Pray’ Toby Keith’s Faith Anchors Him Through Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

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Keith, the inaugural recipient of the People’s Choice Country Icon Award, is looking forward to returning to the stage in the fall.

Toby Keith, a country music icon, is also a man of deep faith. The 62-year-old superstar received the first-ever Country Icon Award at the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards on Thursday evening.

Before the award ceremony commenced, Keith shared with Fox News Digital that he’s doing “alright” and that his faith has been a cornerstone during challenging times, such as when he revealed his stomach cancer diagnosis in June 2022.

“I lean on my faith, and I just pray and lean into it,” Keith remarked. “You gotta’ do what you gotta’ do, and I don’t know how people do it without faith… that’s what I did, it was my rock.”

Keith expressed his hope to return to performing in the fall, provided “everything goes good.”

The country music legend also commented on the “pretty crazy” experience of receiving the Icon Award. “Thirty years of all the songs I wrote, and they’re flashing by ya pretty quick,” Keith noted. “Thirty went by pretty quick… I’m glad they’re recognizing our accomplishment.”

Blake Shelton, an “old friend” of Keith’s, presented him with the award at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Keith revealed that Shelton was his top choice for presenting the award: “He’s an old friend of mine, I was his first tour when he came out. We remain friends, we’re a lot alike… kindred spirits kind of thing.”

Before Shelton took the stage to present the award, a tribute video honored Keith. When presenting the award, Shelton affectionately called Keith his “Oklahoma brother.”

Keith, upon taking the stage, shared a warm hug with Shelton and humorously remarked, “I bet y’all never thought you would see me in skinny jeans.”

The legendary musician expressed gratitude to his family, fans, and God for allowing him to receive the award that evening. He then launched into a performance of his song “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

On the red carpet earlier in the evening, members of Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch praised Keith’s performance, with Lynch calling him “one of his heroes.”

In June 2022, Keith disclosed that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2021.

He shared the news on his social media accounts, stating, “Last fall, I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation, and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover, and relax.”

Keith expressed eagerness to spend time with his family and reconnect with his fans. He is renowned for his support of families grappling with cancer diagnoses, having co-founded Ally’s House in 2004, a nonprofit organization that aids Oklahoma children with cancer and their families.

The organization was named after Allison Webb, the late daughter of one of Keith’s original band members, who tragically passed away from kidney cancer before her third birthday.

Following Ally’s House, Keith established the Toby Keith Foundation in 2006, dedicated to promoting the health and happiness of pediatric cancer patients.