Toby Keith’s faith was his ‘rock’ following stomach cancer diagnosis: ‘I just pray’

Toby Keith is a country icon, and a man of faith. 

The 62-year-old star is the first recipient of the Country Icon Award at the inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards Thursday evening.

Prior to the award show kicking off, Keith told Fox News Digital that he is doing “alright” and has leaned on his faith to help get himself through the hard times – such as his stomach cancer diagnosis he revealed in June 2022.

“I lean on my faith and I just pray and lean into it,” Keith said. “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 shared that he is looking to return to performing in the fall if “everything goes good.” 

The country music legend also told Fox News Digital that it is “pretty crazy” he’s being honored with the Icon Award.

WATCH: Toby Keith says ‘it’s pretty crazy’ to be receiving the Icon Award at the ‘People’s Choice Country Awards’ 

“30 years of all the songs I wrote, and they’re flashing by ya pretty quick,” Keith said. “30 went by pretty quick … I’m glad they’re recognizing our accomplishment.” 

Keith was presented the award at Nashville, Tennessee’s Grand Ole Opry by his “old friend” Blake Shelton.

“He’s who I would’ve chosen,” Keith told Fox News Digital on who he wanted to present the award to him. “He’s an old friend of mine, I was his first tour when he came out. We remain friends, we’re a lot of like … kindred spirits kind of thing.” 

A tribute was played in honor of Keith before Shelton took the stage to present him with the Icon Award. 

“I love my Oklahoma brother,” Shelton said when presenting the award to Keith. 

Keith took the stage, gave Shelton a warm hug and told the crowd, “I bet y’all never thought you would see me in skinny jeans.” 

The legendary musician thanked his family, his fans and God for allowing him to be able to receive the award on Thursday night. 

Keith then went straight into a performance of his song, “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”

On the red carpet earlier in the evening, Little Big Town told Fox News Digital that fans would “really love” Keith’s performance during the award show. 

Dustin Lynch echoed Little Big Town’s sentiments about Keith, saying that he is “one of his heroes.” 

“One of my musical heroes, one of the reasons I moved to Nashville to want to write songs is Toby Keith. So, I’m looking forward to shaking his hand and telling him ‘Thank you’ again,” Lynch added.

In June 2022, Keith revealed that he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in fall 2021.

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

WATCH: Toby Keith says he leans ‘on his faith’ during tough times

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.”


WATCH: Little Big Town says ‘fans will really love’ Toby Keith’s performance at the ‘People’s Choice Country Awards’

Keith is a longtime advocate for families facing cancer diagnoses and helped found Ally’s House in 2004, a nonprofit group that assists Oklahoma children with cancer and their families.


The nonprofit was named after Allison Webb, the 2-year-old daughter of Scott Webb, an original band member of Keith’s, and Scott’s wife Lisa. Allison died in 2003 of kidney cancer before her 3rd birthday. 

WATCH: Dustin Lynch calls Toby Keith one of his ‘musical heroes’

Following in the footsteps of Ally’s House, he established the Toby Keith Foundation in 2006 “to encourage the health and happiness of pediatric cancer patients.”

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