Toby Keith Quit Chemo Months Before Death, Friend Brett Favre Says

The former pro football player remembered his last conversation with the late country star.

Country singer Toby Keith passed away on Feb. 5 at the age of 62 after a battle with stomach cancer. Afterwards, one of his famous friends shared details about his final days. In an interview with TMZ, former NFL player Brett Favre said Keith told him a few months before his death that he had quit chemotherapy, because he thought it might be doing more harm than good.

RELATED: Toby Keith's Rep Says He Was "Misunderstood" Amid Negative Stories Circulating.

Favre explained that he and Keith met in the mid-'90s when Keith was performing near Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. At the time, Favre was the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. "We struck up a friendship that was up until he passed away," he told TMZ.

Favre said that he would check in on Keith about every three months amid the musician's cancer battle and that the last time they spoke on the phone was two weeks before his death. The former football player was hopeful that Keith might be "turning a corner" with his diagnosis, because while he noted that the singer "didn't look very good" on Instagram, he had played three shows in Las Vegas in December.

Favre said that Keith told him, "I quit chemo. It probably did more damage to me than the cancer did … I'm just hoping I didn't quit it too late."

"But he said, 'I'm thankful I got a chance to play some shows. I finished them,'" Favre continued. "I didn't ask him, what's the future hold for you. He didn't divulge anything. We just had a general conversation. And gosh darnit, two weeks later he passed away."

Favre also shared what Keith told him about his state of mind at that point in his cancer battle.

"I think in the end he was just tired. He did say that to me when we had our conversation," the 54-year-old recalled. "He said, 'Brett, whatever happens, I'm OK with it.' And, of course, I was hoping that what happened wouldn't have happened." Favre added, "He handled it with grace and faith and family, and stood up to the cancer about as good as you can."

Keith publicly shared that he had stomach cancer in June 2022 after being diagnosed in fall 2021. "I've spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery," he wrote on Instagram. "So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax. I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can't wait."

The "Red Solo Cup" singer shared an update about his diagnosis in September 2023. "I feel pretty good," he told E! News at the People's Choice Country Awards. "It's a little bit of a roller coaster. You get good days and, you know, you're up and down, up and gown. It's always zero to 60 and 60 to zero but I feel good today." E! News reported that Keith had shared in June that his tumor had reduced by a third of its size.

Keith's death was announced via a statement posted on his Instagram account on Feb. 6. "Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th surrounded by his family," the post reads. "He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under