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Nick Cannon loses infant son to brain cancer, announces on talk show

Television talk show host and actor Nick Cannon announced he lost his 5-month-old son, Zen, to brain cancer.

"Over the weekend, I lost my youngest son to a condition called hydrocephalus," he said on "The Nick Cannon Show" while holding back tears. "It’s tough."

According to the National Institutes of Health, hydrocephalus "is an abnormal buildup of fluid in the ventricles (cavities) deep within the brain." Symptoms can include a rapid increase in head size, vomiting and seizures. While there is no cure, current treatments could include surgery and rehabilitation. 

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Cannon also showed pictures of his son as part of his "pic of the day" segment. Cannon said shortly after Zen’s birth he noticed his son had a cough, a weird breathing pattern, and an irregularly-shaped head which he joked was "the Cannon head." 

The 41-year-old said he and the baby’s mother, Alyssa, took Zen to Children's Hospital of Orange County where doctors told him fluid was building up in the child’s head and called it a malignant tumor. Cannon said doctors immediately performed surgery, putting a shunt in his head to drain the fluid. 

Cannon said things took a turn for the worse during Thanksgiving. He said his son’s tumor grew exponentially. He said he and Alyssa took their son to the beach, holding him for the last time on Sunday. He then shared those pictures with the audience. 

"I wanted to grieve with my family," he continued. "I have so much faith in the Lord."

He said he regained the strength to return to his talk show, thinking about his audience. He dedicated his entire show to Zen, even bringing on his therapist to talk about coping with the loss of a child. 

"I’m feeling it. I’m vulnerable. I’m open," he continued. "I’m going to make it through it."

This story was reported from Los Angeles.