Life

Reality TV star Pete Wicks: We need time to recharge – going at 100 miles an hour catches up with you

Following his testicular cancer scare, Wicks has teamed up with Movember to urge men to stay alert for lumps and get them checked quickly.

Wicks is urging men to ‘know thy nuts’
Wicks is urging men to ‘know thy nuts’ (Niklas Hallen/PA)

Reality TV star Pete Wicks wants men to talk about their health more.

“It’s still kind of a taboo for guys to talk about their own mental health and their own physical health – guys still don’t want to talk about that,” says the former TOWIE cast member, also known for appearances on Celebs Go Dating and Celebrity MasterChef.

“I think normalising more men doing that, being open about it and being able to talk to other men or whoever about it, is really, really important. It shouldn’t be a taboo.

“Women are far more likely to talk about the health and physical problems they have than men are, and it’s a shame, it shouldn’t be a gender-specific thing,” adds Essex-based Wicks, 35. “We should all look after ourselves, 100%.”

Pete Wicks at the 2024 TV Choice Awards in February
Pete Wicks at the 2024 TV Choice Awards in February (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

It’s a subject he’s been thinking about a lot following his own health scare last year. Wicks found a lump on one of his testicles – which can be a warning sign of testicular cancer (a disease his uncle had previously had) – but ignored it for three months before finally seeing a doctor.

“Fortunately for me, [my lump] was benign,” says Wicks – but the experience opened his eyes to the importance of getting things checked quickly.

“It was something that could have been something, that wasn’t – but I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t got it checked. I think a lot of men bury their heads in the sand a little bit, and that’s what I did.

“I put off getting it checked for a number of reasons, mainly embarrassment and not wanting to know, which is really, really stupid on my part, because testicular cancer is highly curable when it’s caught early. So I think this is a really important message for young guys to have.”

Wicks – who also appeared on The Celebrity Circle in 2021 alongside his good friend, former Made In Chelsea star Sam Thompson – has now joined forces with men’s health charity Movember, to raise awareness and spread their ‘Know Thy Nuts’ message, reminding men to regularly check their testicles for lumps and other unusual changes, such as swelling or pain.

While lumps aren’t always cancerous, testicular cancer is the most common cancer among young men. Wicks still feels “so, so fortunate that it ended up fine for me”, but he recalls the anxiety it caused at the time – especially from “not knowing” whether it was serious or not.

“It started to play on my own mental health because I always had this fear that there might be something wrong. It was starting to affect all sorts of different parts of my life,” he explains. “I was seeing someone at the time, and the embarrassment of them potentially finding or noticing there was a lump.

“And the fear – because cancer is that word people don’t want to talk about, and are so afraid of hearing. In the end, it got to the point where it was affecting me so much that I just needed to know, you can’t just bury your head in the sand.

“I had to have tests, but it was a relief to actually be doing something, it felt like a weight [had been] lifted,” he adds. “I’m so fortunate that it ended up fine for me. But if it hadn’t been, and I’d left it so long, it could have had a really terrible outcome.”

Did it feel like a bit of a wake-up call?

“It’s certainly a wake-up call in terms of the fact I’m getting a little bit older, and looking after yourself is so important. Because without [your] physical and mental health, it doesn’t really matter what else is going on your life, it’s the most important thing, isn’t it? And having that peace of mind, knowing that you’re ok, is really important for everything else you do in your life.”

When it comes to taking care of himself though, it’s all about the simple things for Wicks.

“Mental self-care, I think, is the most important thing. Taking the time to do the things that you want to do, making sure you’re giving yourself enough rest in between, whatever your day-to-day life is. Giving yourself time to process everything that’s happening in your life is really important,” he says.

“I love to ride my motorbike – that’s my thing that gives me a break away from reality. And being around animals is my meditation. I’ve got my two dogs [Wicks has two adopted French Bulldogs, his beloved Eric and Peggy] and I find that really therapeutic.

“Saturday mornings I often go out on the bike, grab a coffee and just have a bit of a breeze, where I don’t think about anything other than that precise moment. That’s my time to recharge,” he continues. “But everyone’s different, you have to find what works for you.”

It wasn’t always this way.

“It’s definitely a learning curve. When I was younger, I was very much 100 miles an hour all the time, constantly running from one thing to another. Everyone’s life is busy and you just kind of roll through and burn the candle at both ends – I certainly did. But it catches up on you, mentally and physicality,” Wicks reflects.

“So you have to recharge and give yourself space to keep on top of your own self-care.”

Pete Wicks has partnered with Movember, who are dedicated to tackling some of the biggest health issues faced by men, including mental health, suicide prevention, prostate and testicular cancer. To find out how to ‘Know Thy Nuts’, visit uk.movember.com