'Moonshiners' Star Digger Manes Says Leukemia Diagnosis Is "No Fun," but He's Hopeful About the Future

Kelly Corbett - Author

Jan. 17 2024, Published 12:09 p.m. ET

It's illegal to make moonshine for personal consumption — an alcoholic drink that is typically made from corn, sugar, and water — but that hasn’t stop the folks on Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners from keeping the centuries-old tradition alive. The popular docudrama follows several distillers and their efforts to create moonshine all while keeping a low profile in the name of the law.

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But for some time, there have been rumors that star Digger Manes' (real name Eric Manes) health is in jeopardy. And in Season 13, he finally addressed the speculation and disclosed his illness, which he claimed was causing him to "go big before he goes home."

What does Digger from 'Moonshiners' have? Is he OK?

Digger has been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that usually gets worse overtime, per the National Cancer Institute. While it is the most common form of leukemia in adults, it's still considered rare as there are fewer than 200,000 cases in the U.S. per year. The most common symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes and feelings of fatigue. But given that CLL may worsen as with age, fans are concerned about Digger's health moving forward.

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On the Season 13 premiere, Digger shared this information with his co-star Mark Ramsay, claiming that he didn't have much time left.

However, after the episode aired, Digger took to Facebook to clarify that the episode made his illness look more severe than it actually is.

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"I want to follow up with the news that the show aired tonight. The production company did film Mark and myself when I gave him the news after I first received my diagnosis of Leukemia," he wrote on his shared Facebook page with Mark. Digger went on to explain that he doesn't get to see new episodes until they air like everyone else, and didn't know that particular scene would unfold like that.

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"After more extensive tests my definite diagnosis is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia a condition that is not terminal (ain’t no fun though), Digger wrote. In true Digger fashion, he teased that his CLL will "probably will just make me miserable until something else kills me."

Fans of the show commented on the distiller's candid post, happy to hear that his illness isn't terminal. "Thanks for the post elaborating — we've been worrying since we heard tonight! Prayers and love for ya!" read one comment.

Is Digger leaving 'Moonshiners'?

While the editing during the Season 13 premiere of Moonshiners may have made it seem like Digger has plans to leave the series due to his withering health, he hasn't personally shared any information suggesting that he is exiting Moonshiners or that his CLL would prevent him from appearing on the show.

Digger and Mark have been on Moonshiners since the series premiered in 2011.

New episodes of Moonshiners air on 8 p.m. EST on the Discovery Channel.

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