Nick Cannon, who revealed on his daytime talk show earlier this month that his and Alyssa Scott's 5-month-old son Zen had died of brain cancer, says: "My heart is shattered. I wish I could have done more, spent more time with him, taken more pictures. I wish I could have hugged him longer."
In a People magazine interview in its new issue, the singer-actor and "The Masked Singer" host, 41, gave further details about the tragedy, in which he and Scott had Zen examined for breathing issues only to learn the infant had tumors in his brain and spine. He died Dec. 5, with Cannon and family members with him in California.
"I was, like, 'We have to watch the sun rise and just be there with him one last time,' " Cannon says in the new interview of spending one last day with Scott and Zen at the beach. "It was beautiful."
Several weeks earlier, Cannon and Scott had noticed what sounded like "fluid in his lungs, like a sinus infection or something," he says, adding that doctors "didn't think it to be anything too concerning." But Zen soon was diagnosed with the rare brain cancer glioma.
"We started asking, 'Is there a way to prevent this? If not, how long do we have?' " Cannon told the magazine. "The conversations quickly turned to, 'How can we give him the best life for the time that he does have?' It could be weeks, it could be months, it could be years."
Cannon, who himself has been treated for the autoimmune disease lupus, says he and Scott began having "quality-of-life conversations. … We could have had that existence where he would've had to live in the hospital, hooked up to machines, for the rest of the time. From someone who's had to deal with chemotherapy before, I know that pain. To see that happen to a 2-month-old, I didn't want that. I didn't want him to suffer."
Saying, "We had a short time with a true angel," Cannon describes Zen as "the most loving baby," adding, "I look at being his father as a great privilege."
In a statement to People, Scott said, "It was a privilege being Zen's mommy. It's so beautiful and encouraging to see even complete strangers being touched and moved by Zen's light. Zen's spirit and light will shine bright forever."
Cannon also is the father of his pop star ex-wife Mariah Carey's 10-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe; son Golden, 4, and daughter Powerful Queen, 11 months, with yoga instructor Brittany Bell; and 6-month old twin sons Zion and Zillion with former iHeart Radio personality Abby De La Rosa.