2016 was the most bittersweet year of my life. After riding the fun wave of being a part of Storage Hunters for the majority of my adult life, I finally was able to break away and do my own new show. BRITISH TREASURE, AMERICAN GOLD was off and running in production, filming and exploring the most interesting places and treasures of what the UK has to offer. It was fun, it was new, and I was loving it.
Or at least, I was trying to love it. But, behind the scenes, something much different was going on. Something just wasn’t right.
Now let me preface, I’ve been on TV for quite a while now, and, although I am from ‘Hollywood’ per se, I am the very embodiment of everything that is the exact opposite of everything your stereotypical reality star (‘star’ – yeah right!) stands for.
I am a middle-class, manly, patriotic dude, who just wants to work hard and have a little fun in the process. I like to represent the little guy. I shop at Primark and Sports Direct Outlet and Accrington Stanley is my favourite football club. On weekends, you will find me at a local pub somewhere in Lancashire or hunting treasures in charity shops across England.
I identify with the underdog. When I do charity work, it is to help others. But little did I know I would be needing help myself.
Compared to your typical reserved Brit, I am a bit of an attention seeker – there is no doubt about that. But when I got the news that I had testicular cancer, suddenly I became very quiet. Instead of the loud-mouthed American looking for someone to entertain, I bottled everything up. In my mind, the last thing I wanted was people to show me sympathy, to feel sorry for me. Why? Because I am some ‘too-tough for feelings’ kind of guy? Because I felt less of a man by seeking out help from others? Isn’t that what friends and family are for? I still don’t have the answer to this. To be honest, I think I was just scared.
No matter the feelings, I had to get on with it. It is one thing you learn from the British – you get on with it. I had to finish filming my show. I had to work up the courage, get on screen, say my lines about how much money I was going to make off some old Welsh lady’s junk, get excited about it, and then move on to the next location. Luckily, production wrapped just as I was made to go home to get treated.
I would like to say the best thing about me is my awesome facial hair, but it’s not. It’s my family. My partner Nicole, all five-foot-nothing of this fiery Essex beauty, is what kept me going through this whole mess. With her amazing work ethic and undying love, she kept me in the gym to be in the best physical shape I could be, while loving my (new and old) imperfections like no one else.
When you go through trials and tribulations, you need to have the people you care about on your side. I have had major ups-and-downs through this whole process, and to have her by my side is what has kept me going. (Especially with the downs. I’ve quickly learned to not mess with girls from Essex. Jeez! They’ve got some energy!)
It is not in my nature to tell you about things like this, publicly or privately. I am not one to bicker, complain, or talk negatively. I always see the beauty and the gift of life. But sometimes, life isn’t always happy and wonderful. When I was going through my darkest times, I tried doing it alone. Don’t do what I did. Find those people and ask for help.
From this point forward, I will be partnering with Movember UK to bring awareness to all Men’s health. The only thing that motivated me to get checked early, and saved me from late-stage cancer, was all my dumb friends growing awful moustaches for what I believed was a half-hearted attempt at being a part of a short-lived fad. Little did I know that terrible facial hair would be a big part of saving my life.
This is where I provide you with some hotline if you need help, but frankly, I will do it myself. Movember is a great organisation that can honestly help if you are going through any troubling times or something similar to what I’ve been through. But, if that isn’t your style, please contact me personally on twitter @jessemcclure or email me personally at email@example.com. I’m here for you dudes, and together we can kick cancer (right in the nuts!)
People who want to donate to the cause can do so here: mosista.co/nicolebrooks