Toby Keith Declares He’s ‘Ready’ For A Touring Comeback Amid Stomach Cancer Battle

Keith hopes to get back on stage later this year.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

June 30, 2023

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Toby Keith; Photo by Erika Goldring, Getty Images for BMI

Toby Keith is “ready” to return to the road amid his ongoing battle with stomach cancer.

In a recent interview with The Oklahoman while backstage at the Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic pre-tournament gala on June 2 at the Riverwind Casino, Keith revealed that he is on the mend and is eager to get back on stage.

“I feel better; I’ve got more wind. 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,” Keith continued, “And if I do, (I’ll) be out on the road this fall. All I got to 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. I’m ready.”

Back On The Road

Toby Keith; Photo via Twitter
Toby Keith; Photo via Twitter

While chatting with the outlet, the “Oklahoma Breakdown” singer also shared an update on his health, revealing that he is on the mend. 

“I’m feeling pretty good. … I’m about another eight weeks from my last scan. So, I expect next time I look for that tumor to be even less — and I’ve only got one that’s shown up,” Keith explained. “Basically, everything is in a real positive trend. You never know with cancer, so you have to prepare.”

Undergoing Treatments

Despite feeling better, Keith is still battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. However, his tumor has shrunk by a third and his blood tests continue to improve with each new test.

The Oklahoma-based media outlet also reported that he is also undergoing “immunotherapy and working with a nutritionist.”

Toby with OK Kids Korral alumni family; Photo Provided Shock Ink_The Toby Keith Foundation
Toby with OK Kids Korral alumni family; Photo Provided Shock Ink_The Toby Keith Foundation

“They put oxygen in your blood. They give you high doses of vitamin C and good vitamins and nutrient bag you up to where you feel better. And you can start trying to heal your body,” Toby Keith, who will celebrate his 62nd birthday on July 8, added.

“Now, they’re trying to fight where the cancer backs up and says, ‘Oh, you’re fighting that tumor? We’re gonna remorph and turn into this kind of cancer.’ … So, while they (the cancer cells) are in the bullpen regrouping, we’re trying to kill ’em with something different,” he continued.

Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy CMT Hot 20 Countdown
Toby Keith; Photo Courtesy CMT Hot 20 Countdown

Hopeful For The Future

In 2022, Toby Keith sat down with CMT Hot 20 Countdown’s Cody Alan for a rare interview while at the 2022 BMI Country Awards, where he was honored with the BMI Icon Award.

During the interview, Keith said that he was hopeful for his touring future.

“Yeah, I’m thinking about… I’m thinking about getting back to fightin’ shape. I need a little bit of time to just rest up and heal up,” he explained. “It’s pretty debilitating to have to go through all that, but as long as everything stays hunky-dory then we’ll look at something good in the future.”

Surprise Appearances

While his touring plans still remain unknown, Toby Keith has made several surprise appearances at different establishments such as Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Eskimo Joe’s Sports Bar, The Noun Hotel and more.

Most recently, Keith celebrated the Oklahoma University (OU) softball team’s National Championship win on Thursday, June 8, at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Oklahoma City.

At the event, the country superstar joined several OU softball players on stage at his restaurant to sing his 1999 hit, “How Do You Like Me Now?!” and the clip has since gone viral.

Revealed His Diagnosis In 2022

Toby Keith first revealed his cancer diagnosis to fans in early June of 2022.

“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,” the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member wrote at the time.

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

Toby Keith; Photo by Richard McLaren
Toby Keith; Photo by Richard McLaren

At the time of his diagnosis, Keith was forced to cancel all of his upcoming festival appearances and tour dates.

Major Success

In 2021, Toby Keith released his 19th studio album, Peso In My Pocket. The project includes the fan-favorite track, “Old School,” as well as his current radio single, “Oklahoma Breakdown.” Co-produced by Keith and Kenny Greenberg, the 10-track album includes songs co-written with Sammy Hagar, former frontman of Van Halen, as well as cuts from the Warren Brothers, Ryan Hurd, Maren Morris, Jessie Jo Dillon and more.

Keith, who is regarded as one of country music’s biggest hitmakers with 32 No. 1 single and 40+ million albums sold, has written a chart-topping hit every year for 20 consecutive years, including “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American),” “I Love This Bar,” “Beer For My Horses,” and “As Good As I Once Was.”

Toby Keith accepts an award onstage from BMI VP of Creative Nashville, Clay Bradley and president and CEO of BMI Mike O'Neill; Photo by Erika Goldring, Getty Images for BMI
Toby Keith accepts an award onstage from BMI VP of Creative Nashville, Clay Bradley and president and CEO of BMI Mike O’Neill; Photo by Erika Goldring, Getty Images for BMI

The Oklahoma native was recognized for his career success in November 2022 with the BMI Icon Award at the 70th Annual BMI Country Awards. The BMI Icon Award is awarded to exceptional songwriters in recognition of their “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers,” according to a press release. Keith joins an elite list of songwriters who have earned the BMI Icon Award, including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Jr.

He is also a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (having already been inducted into the all-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015), and was honored with the Academy of Country Music’s prestigious Merle Haggard Spirit Award.

The country hitmaker has a countless amount of accolades, including CMA Awards, Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards, ACM Awards and more. The 61-year-old singer/songwriter has also been nominated for seven GRAMMY awards.

In addition to awards and chart success, Toby Keith is known for giving back through his annual golf classics and his USO tours.

19th Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic afternoon tournament winners were (l to r) Ryan Sparkman, Harvey Sparkman, Drew Goodman, Carson Sparkman, and Evan Sparkman; Photo Provided Shock Ink_The Toby Keith Foundation-2
19th Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic afternoon tournament winners were (l to r) Ryan Sparkman, Harvey Sparkman, Drew Goodman, Carson Sparkman, and Evan Sparkman; Photo Provided Shock Ink_The Toby Keith Foundation-2

Giving Back

The 19th Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic took place earlier this month and raised a record $1.8 million in support of OK Kids Korral, the cost-free home for families of children battling cancer. 

Toby Keith appeared at the two-day event, which included a golf tournament and dinner. The Friday night dinner was headlined by chart-topping country group Sawyer Brown. 750 guests attended the denim and rhinestones-themed soirée, which also included a record-setting auction.

Altogether, the Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic has raised nearly $18 million. The funding supports The Toby Keith Foundation, which helped construct OK Kids Korral in support of Oklahoma pediatric cancer patients. 

Toby Keith, Pete Penner; Photo Provided Shock Ink_The Toby Keith Foundation
Toby Keith, Pete Penner; Photo Provided Shock Ink_The Toby Keith Foundation

“Next year, it’ll be the 10th year for OK Kids Korral, 20th year of my foundation party,” Keith also told The Oklahoman at the event. “We’re gonna celebrate a 10 and a 20, and we’re gonna blow it out. It’s amazing how much support we get. But it takes that kind of support to handle 300 families a year.”   

Foundation

According to a release, “OK Kids Korral helps make life a little easier for children with cancer by providing a safe, convenient, and hopeful place for families to connect with each other and focus on the well-being of their child. OK Kids Korral provides daytime and overnight lodging for pediatric patients and their families. The state-of-the-art facilities at OK Kids Korral are designed to create a relaxing haven for the entire family.”

To learn more about The Toby Keith Foundation, click HERE.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.