It’s been a week in which two of there world’s biggest and best loved stars – David Bowie and Alan Rickman – both sadly lost their battle with cancer.
But the Big C isn’t a disease that only attacks the older members of society. As X Factor and I’m A Celeb hunk Jake Quickenden only knows too well, cancer can take the young way too soon.
Back in 2012, his 19-year old brother Oliver died after a battle with bone cancer, the same disease that took their father just four years before. Obviously devastated, Jake, from that moment, understood that life was for the taking. And has done so with both hands, having thrown himself in the crazy world of The X Factor, endured the harsh tasks of the I’m A Celeb jungle and producing music he wants to make all by himself.
Here, in an emotional and revealing interview, Jake opens up about his own terrifying cancer scare, why more men should look after their health, how he’s fallen victim to online body shakers and why he will make a great dad!
Tell us about the scare you had… When you first thought there was something wrong did you think the worst.
I’d found a lump and couldn’t help but think the worst. It was a very worrying time. Luckily there was nothing to be worried about. But I just want to encourage everyone to get to know their bodies and to try and get people to constantly keep a check of themselves. It doesn’t make you less of a man if you go to the doctors with a worry. We are all in the same boat. Cancer attacks everyone, no matter who you are, no matter your job or how much you earn, no matter where you live, it comes after all of us. I know we have many superheroes like Stand Up To Cancer, Teenage Cancer Trust and many more, trying their best to beat the bastard disease, and I’m positive that one day we’ll find it’s weakness and overpower it.
It was reported recently that one in two people will get cancer and that 90% of cases are due to lifestyle as opposed to genetics. Are you trying to lead as healthy a lifestyle as possible
I’m healthy because I want to live the best life I can. It’s a personal choice. My moto is everything in moderation. I refuse to feel scared or intimated by this disease.
Do you feel with having lost two loved ones that you literally make the most of very day that you can?
Absolutely. It’s the way I live my life.
You’ve got a great physique, do you maintain for health reasons or vanity?
One hundred per cent health. We only get one life, one body and we should look after ourselves. Since losing members of my family, I live every day as it comes, but I want to live a long life, which means making the right life choices. I’m no Gwyneth Paltrow, but everything in moderation is key.
You’re a handsome guy – do you think people think you’re vain and don’t have the depth you actually have?
Thanks for saying i’m handsome. I think a lot of people may think I reckon highly of myself because of my social media posts. But that’s not me. I’m not vain. Most people who seem confident are actually the most insecure.
When you were a teenager were you confident – did you have any insecurities?
I don’t think I’ve ever been confident. Yeah I’ve always been quite an insecure person, although I’m more open to discussing that now. I think as blokes we don’t really like to admit that. I think our generation might all feel slightly more insecure these days because of the likes of Instagram and photoshop. We all can make ourselves near to perfect with all these apps. I mean you can even change the colour of your eyes! But it’s not realistic is it? When you look in the mirror, there isn’t an app is there. People think I must be confident because I take my top off all the time, but it doesn’t mean I think I’m a good looking guy.
With everything that was going on in your life, did you feel like you couldn’t be just a young guy because you were so worried about your family’s welfare?
Like many people who have been through what I’ve been through you have to grow up quicker. But I had an amazing childhood and it just made me stronger as a person. As i’ve got older, my mum would probably say that I act younger ha!
What kind of dad will you be?
In my eyes, my dad was the best. I hope to be like him. I want my children to be nice people with good attitudes. Not sure whether I’ll be a cool dad or an embarrassing one, but I know I’ll be very protective though, like at what age do you let you kid have a mobile? Or at what age is it acceptable to let them to walk to school on their own?
Do you want kids as soon as can?
I will have children, but not right now. For now I want to work my hardest and concentrate on my career so that in the future I am able to provide my family with the very best opportunities.
Do you miss not having that father figure in your life?
I’ll always miss having my father. I am lucky because I have a good network around me who keep me grounded and who are always there for me when I need them. I surround myself with positive people who make me smile.
How is the career going after X Factor and the Jungle. Is it tough to get people to hear your music?
I have people that like me and then there are people that do not. But that is life. I work hard and I’m always hopeful that my supporters will continue to stick by me. Those that want to hear my music, will be hearing much more this year. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities and experiences that I’ve had so far.
Is it tough to get people to take you seriously?
I think it has been a struggle at times. But I must be doing something right, because I’m still here. I am still able to live my dream and do what I love. I’ve always come into this with an open mind, perhaps I would have got a harder time if i’d come into this game being arrogant and over confident, but i’ve just enjoyed the ride. People are giving me the chance, and for that I am very grateful.
What does this year hold?
I’m excited about this year. I’m in a really positive frame of mind. There’s new music and I’m hoping there will be a few surprises along the way.
Would you ever set your sights on a TV role?
I never say no to a new challenge. I think it would be fun. A soap could be could, perhaps I could end up being Danny Dyer’s younger AND better looking brother in EastEnders?
Everyone is telling Cheryl she is too thin! Do you think this is bullying?
I think any type of body shaming is bullying. Each body is difficult, each person has various things that affect their body, whether that’s physically or emotionally. Who am I to say if someone is too thin or too big? I’m not a doctor. I actually had my own case of body shaming pre-Christmas. I uploaded some pictures on Instagram. I’d just started working as ambassador for Holland & Barratt so it was all to do with healthy living and eating – what I didn’t expect was to be bombarded with negative comments about how I look. It didn’t feel very nice at all and it wasn’t nice to read.
The X Factor had a hard time last series, should it take a rest?
I will always owe a lot to The X Factor. I’m incredibly grateful. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I am. It opened doors for me, without the show I wouldn’t have come runner up on I’m a Celeb. I owe a lot to the show so I won’t say a bad word about it. Simon Cowell knows what he is doing and despite his sarcastic remarks against me, I’m extremely respectful of him and his work.
Jake, so when can we expect some new music?
I’m showcasing the artist I am, the music that I have always wanted to record. I’m so grateful to those who have let me be me. It’s a mix of sounds, but the lyrics are from the heart. It’s a very much heart on the sleeves EP and will be out very soon.
Follow Jake on Twitter