Jack Maxwell has explored the world on Booze Traveler, but now he is facing a new challenge. The 54-year-old reveals exclusively to Us Weekly that he was diagnosed early last year with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that originates in white blood cells.
Maxwell received the news after undergoing a series of scans at the medical center where his physician’s assistant stepbrother works. “They said, ‘Yeah, it looks like you have cancer,’ and I said, ‘I don’t have cancer. Cancer? How can I?’” he recalls. “I was not symptomatic. I was tired. I thought that was from traveling.”
After a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis, the Travel Channel personality began researching non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “When they found it, I was pretty far along [but] still not in the danger zone,” he tells Us. “Right now I’m in the middle of chemo and even that has affected me less than I thought it would.”
Growing up, Maxwell learned strength from his mother and late grandmother. “They taught me to always stay positive and be a good person,” he says. Because of that, he took his cancer diagnosis in stride. “I said, ‘Listen, cancer is a terrorist, that’s all. Yes, it kills and it does devastation, but mostly it messes with you,’” he tells Us. “I didn’t think, ‘This is it,’ or feel bad for myself. I wasn’t going to let that happen to me. It’s not just a psychological ploy. I really just was trying to stay positive through the whole thing.”
Initially, the Boston native didn’t want to reveal his diagnosis. He only informed a few people from Travel Channel and didn’t even tell his mom right away. “I didn’t want to burden her,” he says. But now that he’s undergoing chemotherapy, “I just think it’s a good time to share it and to not keep it a secret,” he explains. “Now it’s going to be gone soon — fingers crossed, knock on wood — so I just think this is the right time.”
Through it all, Maxwell has continued to work on season 4 of his show. In fact, he only missed two days of filming. “I’ll handle it, I’ll beat it and I’ll move on. I still have a great life,” he tells Us. “This just feels more like a speed bump than any kind of brick wall.”
The adventurer has continued to live his personal life, too. “I’m out there, I’m doing hikes, I’m trying to do as much as I can,” he says. “I’ll walk around the block with weights. I’ll get some sun. … I don’t let it get me down.”
Maxwell has even found some time to enjoy a relaxing cocktail, which he says “does not affect” his condition. He tells Us, “I think any time you can slow your life down and remember really why we’re here, I think that’s when you’re at your healthiest or best.”
Booze Traveler season 4 premieres on Travel Channel on Monday, December 18, at 10 p.m. ET.
Reporting by Carly Sloane.