Adventure Reality

Moonshiners: An Update of Digger’s health

Digger has been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, but the reality star has cleared up some of the details around his diagnosis.

Watching Moonshiners gives you an inside look into the lives of some of America’s most successful backyard brewers. But there is a lot that can happen in the few months between seasons.

What happened to Digger?

When fans tuned in to watch the all-new season of Moonshiners in January 2024, they were expecting  the show’s run-of-the-mill, barely-legal moonshining shenanigans. But what they were not quite as prepared for was the news of Digger’s illness.

Eric “Digger” Manes and Mark Ramsey have become some of Moonshiners’ most prolific under-the-radar producers, or “Shinetologists” as they like to call themselves.

However, after Digger shared the news that he had been diagnosed with a rare blood disease and that he did not have “much time left,” fans were worried that their moonshine empire may soon come tumbling down.

Fortunately, though, Digger took to Facebook just after the “Moonshine is a Miracle” premiere episode aired, to set the record straight about his diagnosis.

According to this January 31, 2024 update, Digger was diagnosed with a disease called Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia after undergoing extensive tests.

Moonshiners: An Update of Digger’s health

And while he did not seem too sure about his outlook when the episode was filmed, Digger seems considerably more positive about his prognosis now.

Moonshiners season 13

In classic country-boy fashion, Digger’s Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia diagnosis has not slowed down his and Mark’s Moonshining activities one bit.

They have spent the most of season 13 (so far) recruiting new team members to help them expand their distilling operations.

All the Moonshiners season 13 episodes which have aired thus far can be outlined as follows:

Episode Initial air date
“Moonshine is a Miracle” January 2, 2024
“Try That in a Shine Town” January 9, 2024
“Beer Before Liquor” January 16, 2024
“The Drunkest President” January 23, 2024
“Quarter Ton of Backwoods Fun” January 30, 2024
“Tennessee Spirit” February 6, 2024
“Legalize It!” February 13, 2024
“Highway Robbery” February 20, 2024
“Tickle’s Restaurant” April 2, 2024
“Boldest Bootleg” April 9, 2024
“The Grapes of Grappa” April 16, 2024

What exactly is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia?

Digger’s Facebook update reminded viewers that he has little control over which parts of his recorded conversations end up making the final cut for each episode.

So to clear up any lingering confusion, it might be helpful to provide a short description of what Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia disease actually is.

The Mayo Clinic describes Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) as a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

The disease usually starts in a type of white blood cell knows as a lymphocyte and is the most common type of leukemia amongst older adults.

In very broad terms, this disease occurs when too many of the blood stem cells produced in the bone marrow become abnormal lymphocytes (leukemia cells).

This type of cancer typically progresses quite slowly (which is where the ‘chronic’ part of the diagnosis comes in).

And many people do not even start showing the tell-tale symptoms (enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue, pain, fever, weight loss and more) until a few years in.

What is Digger’s prognosis?

Digger did not share how much his CLL has progressed, but there are various different treatment options available to treat this disease.

Doctors commonly use watchful waiting, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and even experimental therapies in clinical trials to combat the spread of the disease.

But while Digger did not sound too hopeful about his prognosis on the show, his Facebook update did clarify that his condition is not terminal (he added that it “ain’t no fun though”) and was probably just bad enough to make him miserable.

Furthermore, it seems like he will be able to continue making Moonshiners for some time.

How Digger is doing now

While Digger has shared that the CLL diagnosis has been anything but fun, it seems like he has not let this diagnosis keep him from his Moonshine-making passion.

Digger recently celebrated his 60th Birthday on February 21, 2024. But when this Moonshining celebrity is not busy sipping it up, he is usually on the road meeting fans.

Digger and his Moonshining right-hand man, Mark, have been touring all over the country since Moonshiners’ 13th season first started airing, to meet and greet fans and to bring their increasingly popular moonshine to the masses.

This recent video posted to the pair’s shared Facebook page shows them attending an event in Texas not too long ago, and they still have a few meet and greet dates coming up later in the year.

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