In June 2022, he tweeted: “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.” He added that he was looking forward to “spending time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait.”
At the People’s Choice Country Awards on Thursday night, Keith spoke about his diagnosis and what life has been like since. In an interview with Extra TV, he said, “I’ve walked some dark hallways, [but] the Almighty’s riding shotgun. I feel pretty good. You have good days and bad days.”
Keith said that, overall, he’s feeling better than he did in 2022. “It’s a little bit of a roller coaster, but I’m doing better than I was this time last year,” he said. At the ceremony, Keith accepted the Country Icon award, per Billboard.
Stomach cancer, sometimes called gastric cancer, is caused by a growth of cells in the stomach, per the Mayo Clinic. It can happen in any part of the stomach. In much of the world, it starts in the main part, called the stomach body, but in the US, it’s more likely to start near the gastroesophageal junction. This part connects the tube that carries swallowed food to the stomach.
Usually, stomach cancer treatment is successful if the cancer hasn’t spread; the prognosis for patients diagnosed with small stomach cancer is typically good. However, stomach cancer can spread by growing through the stomach wall, and many stomach cancers are diagnosed after the disease has become advanced; at this stage, a cure is less likely.
Symptoms of stomach cancer include belly pain, trouble swallowing, feeling bloated after eating a meal, never feeling hungry, feeling full after eating just small amounts of food, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, losing weight without meaning to, vomiting, fatigue, and black stool.
It’s not clear what causes stomach cancer, but experts say it could be triggered by eating a lot of salty food, developing an infection in the stomach, or having long-standing acid reflux. As they grow deeper into the stomach wall, stomach cancer cells can destroy healthy body tissue.
There are multiple types of stomach cancer, including adenocarcinoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST), lymphoma, and carcinoid tumours.
Certain risk factors have been linked to the occurrence of stomach cancer, including diet high in smoked or salty foods, diet low in vegetables or fruits, ongoing issues with stomach acid, gastritis, infection with Helicobacter pylori, smoking, family history of stomach cancer, and polyps.
Stomach cancer prevention tips include eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, reducing the amount of smoked and salty foods in your diet, stopping smoking, and informing your doctor if stomach cancer runs in your family.
The disease can be diagnosed after an exam in which a doctor looks inside the stomach or after a sample of tissue has been taken for testing. Other tests may be used to determine the stage of cancer a patient has, including blood tests, a stomach ultrasound, imaging tests, or surgery.
There are multiple treatments for stomach cancer; the one that is recommended to a patient depends on the type and stage of cancer they have. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy are all used to treat the disease.
When asked what has kept him motivated since his diagnosis, Keith said, “My faith. I’ve always rode with a prayer. As long as I have Him with me, I’m cool. You just have to dig in; you don’t have a choice.”