Country music fans are rallying around Toby Keith after the singer returned to the stage amid his stomach cancer battle. The songwriter played two pop-up concerts in his home state of Oklahoma on June 30 and July 1.
Toby and his band took the stage for two-and-a-half-hour sets on both days, smiling and interacting with the crowd in videos captured by fans during the shows. On his official Instagram page, Toby’s team shared photos of the “Red Solo Cup” singer raising a cup to the crowd as he performed his classic tune.
“He sang all the hits plus the Bus Songs …Toby is back!” the caption on one set of photos read.
In another carousel of photos, Toby was pictured on stage with his writing buddy Scotty Emerick. “Nights to remember!” the caption said. Fans took to the comments section to express how happy they were to see Toby on stage again.
“Love seeing Toby’s great big smile!!” one follower wrote. “And continuing prayers and best wishes as he progresses with his health challenge!!”
The two performances signified the first time Toby has appeared on stage since announcing his stomach cancer diagnosis in June 2022.
“Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer,” he penned on Instagram at the time. “I’ve spent the last six months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. 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.”
Following the news of his diagnosis, Toby’s scheduled performance at the Ohio State Fair in July 2022 was canceled. In the months that followed, he canceled more than a dozen shows across the U.S. as he focused on receiving treatment.
One year after publicly announcing his diagnosis, Toby updated fans on his condition.
“I’m feeling pretty good … I’m about another eight weeks from my last scan,” the musician told The Oklahoman in June 2023. So I expect next time I look for that tumor to be even less — and I’ve only got one that’s shown up.”
Toby hinted at returning to the stage for a limited concert series in the future.
“You never know with cancer, so you have to prepare. But my goal is, I feel better; I’ve got more wind,” he said. “All I got to do is see if I can get through two or three nights of work and get a little break in this chemo, and we’ll go back to work.”