After a recurrence of his mom's cancer pulled Gold Rush foreman Rick Ness away from his crew mid-season, the Discovery personality says the outlook may not be as bright as family and fans had hoped.
"She's doing good right now," he told PopCulture.com exclusively. "She's gone through about as much treatment as she can go through and the cancer's still there, so the outlook is not good, but for right now she's happy."
The 36-year-old reality TV star said he 's been spending most of his time this off-season in northern Wisconsin spending time with his mom and "just making sure she's OK, because she's having a little bit of balance issues."
But for now, he added, she's happy and "eating good."
"She's always loved to eat," he said fondly. "For such a small woman she out-eats me! It's crazy."
When Ness had to leave behind his crew for a short time during this ongoing season of the Discovery show, crew lead Parker Schnabel set aside his and Ness' frequent disagreements in favor of family, saying, "Family always comes first."
But balancing his work in the Klondike with family obligations is a tension in Ness' life.
"It's tough, because I've got a lot going on trying to get ready for the spring and everything," he admitted to PopCulture.com. "But it's my mom, so I'm happy to be there with her."
As the show grows in popularity, Ness also revealed that he's being recognized when he is in town more and more, especially at the Home Depot near the new house he just purchased. "I think it helps too that I'm a really big guy," he jokes.
But all of his encounters so far have been positive with fans.
"It's surprising how respectful people are," he said. "They just wanna shake my hand and say, 'Hey, we love what you do on the show, and [we're] big fans and keep up the good work.' And overall my experiences with that kind of stuff have been great."
And for those of his fans going through a tough time, as Ness is currently going through with his mom's health, he has just the kind advice you'd expect from a hardworking Alaskan miner: "That's where I've been. I've been up and down," he said. "You just keep getting after it."
He continued, "I've come a long way and you just keep getting after it, keep working. I've come a long way. I'll always be proud of that."
Photo credit: Twitter/@GoldRushRick