TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has revealed he is suffering with terminal cancer, saying he hopes sharing his terminal cancer diagnosis will inspire others to ‘make the most of every day’.
The 48-year-old, who presents Channel 4‘s A Place In The Sun and the BBC‘s Escape To The Country, dropped the bombshell diagnosis that his lung cancer had spread to his brain in an interview with Hello magazine.
‘I don’t know how long I have left,’ the presenter said.
Jonnie revealed the first warning sign of his illness came while he was filming A Place In The Sun in August 2020 in Italy, when his vision became blurry while driving.
‘Within a week of flying back from filming, I was being given six months to live,’ he said.
‘I had to go home and tell my wife, who was looking after our babies, that she was on her own pretty much. That was devastating.
‘All I could do was apologise to her. I felt so responsible.’
Jonnie, who shares three-year-old son Rex and two-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac with his wife Jessica, said he had chosen to keep his illness private until now.
TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has revealed he is suffering with terminal cancer, saying he hopes sharing his terminal cancer diagnosis will inspire others to ‘make the most of every day’
Tragic news: The 48-year-old, who presents Channel 4’s A Place In The Sun and the BBC’s Escape To The Country, revealed his lung cancer had spread to his brain
Private battle: Jonnie, who shares three-year-old son Rex and two-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac with his wife Jessica, said he had chosen to keep his illness private until now
‘I don’t know how long I have left, but I try to stay positive and my attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it,’ Irwin (pictured with wife Jessica) bravely explained
FROM LUTTERWORTH TO SUN-SOAKED BEACHES: HOW JONNIE IRWIN’S CAREER TOOK OFF
Born in 1973, Jonnie Irwin attended Lutterworth Grammar School and Community College before becoming an estate agent.
In 2004, Irwin was selected from hundreds of applicants alongside co-presenter Jasmine Harman to present Channel 4’s show A Place In The Sun – Home Or Away. The property programme was a surprise hit and was syndicated widely.
In January 2011, Sky 1 broadcast Irwin’s own show called Dream Lives for Sale, in which he helped people leave their lives in the UK in order buy their dream business.
Later that year, he started a new series The Renovation Game which aired on weekday mornings on Channel 4.
Irwin married Jessica Holmes in September 2016. Together they have three sons and live in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
On November 13, Irwin was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He told Hello magazine: ‘I don’t know how long I have left, but I try to stay positive and my attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it.’
He said: ‘It’s got to the point now where it feels like I’m carrying a dirty secret, it’s become a monkey on my back.
‘I hope that by shaking that monkey off I might inspire people who are living with life-limiting prospects to make the most of every day, to help them see that you can live a positive life, even though you are dying.
‘One day, this is going to catch up with me, but I’m doing everything I can to hold that day off for as long as possible.
‘I owe that to Jess and our boys. Some people in my position have bucket lists, but I just want us to do as much as we can as a family.’
Jonnie’s social media was inundated with well wishes and messages of support in the wake of the news.
Escape the Country’s Nicki Chapman wrote: ‘Love you guys so much,’ while another user posted: ‘Jonnie I am so so sorry to hear your news… Life is so cruel, to the nicest of people. I send you all our love to you and your family.’
Others chipped in: ‘Sending you and your beautiful family so much love and strength.
‘Thank you for sharing your news, I’m sure that many people who are in a similar situation will draw strength and inspiration from you.’
Jonnie has continued to work as much as possible, while undergoing bouts of chemotherapy and other treatments.
He was initially set on keeping his diagnosis between a very select group of people, but now has decided to share his experiences and explain the ordeal for others to learn from.
He said: ‘I don’t know how long I have left, but I try to stay positive and my attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it.
The 48-year-old (pictured with Jasmine Harman), presents Channel 4 ‘s A Place In The Sun and the BBC ‘s Escape To The Country
Irwin, pictured here in 2010 at the TV Choice Awards, said he got the first warning signs about his disease in 2020
‘One day, this is going to catch up with me, but I’m doing everything I can to hold that day off for as long as possible,’ Irwin said
Jonnie Irwin (pictured with his eldest son Rex) told Hello Magazine this month: ‘I don’t know how long I have left, but I try to stay positive and my attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it. I set little markers – things I want to be around for’
‘I’m doing everything I can to hold that day off for as long as possible,’ said the father-of-three. ‘I owe that to Jess and our boys. Some people in my position have bucket lists, but I just want us to do as much as we can as a family’
‘I set little markers, things I want to be around for. I got into the habit of saying, ”Don’t plan ahead because I might not be well enough”.
‘But now I want to make plans. I want to make memories and capture these moments with my family because the reality is, my boys are going to grow up not knowing their dad and that breaks my heart.’
The TV presenter is also encouraging people to take out life insurance.
He added: ‘That has helped so much and when I leave this planet, I’ll do so knowing Jess and the boys are in a house that is fully paid off and there’s a bit of money in the bank for them to live off.’
Jonnie’s heartbreaking story is reminiscent of present Dame Deborah James’ battle with bowel cancer, which the mother-of-two sadly lost on June 28 this year.
The journalist, 40, was diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2016, going on to host You, Me and the Big C podcast on BBC Radio 5 Live about her struggles with her illness.
Back in May, Dame Deborah was given just days to live. But she fought her way through another two full months, defying the odds to spend her final weeks with her children and husband out of hospital.
She had an incredibly peaceful death, her husband Sebastien said.
Dame Deborah James’ husband Sebastien told his terminally ill wife he would ‘look after the kids’ as she was on her deathbed and said she had an ‘incredibly peaceful death’.
Deborah is pictured with her 12-year-old daughter Eloise, left. Her father Sebastien says he feels a responsibility to carry on his wife’s positive outlook for their children
Deborah smiles and holds her thumb up in a final farewell from hospital, maintaining her positive spirit up until her last moments
‘People who didn’t know Debs saw her getting weaker and weaker in those final weeks,’ he said. ‘But mentally it was the opposite.
‘Through battling the fires of adversity she got stronger and in my eyes, it made her more and more radiant with every passing day. I’ve never loved her more
‘She knew what was happening to her, yet she was able to still find those magical moments.’
He said he was in awe of what his wife had achieved while dealing with such emotional anguish.
In the months leading up to her death, Deborah had Prince William over for tea, who made her a Dame.
Living life on her own terms despite her illness, she designed Charity T-shirts a clothing line to raise millions more for her ‘Bowelbabe’ fund.
The Dame also wrote and published her second book How to Live When You Should Be Dead, while suffering from cancer, detailing how developing a positive mindset was key to enabling her to cope with her diagnosis.
Thinking of what he loved most about her, he said her way of finding joy in every moment, even in the darkest of times, was what he will miss the most.
Deborah’s candid posts about her progress and diagnosis, including videos of her dancing her way through treatment, won praise from the public and media alike.
Since her diagnosis in December 2016, Deborah poured all her efforts into riding the world of cancer one fight at a time, raising awareness and remaining open and honest about her own personal experiences.
Now, her husband says he feels a responsibility to carry on her positive spirit for their children, Hugo, 14, and Eloise, 12.
The couple first met in 2005 at Cafe de Paris in London, marrying within three years in France.
The former deputy head teacher would often throw incredible parties for their friends, set up outdoor cinemas for their children or throw herself into all manner of projects.
Sebastien said lockdown, unlike in other circumstances, had been a blessing for their family – allowing them to spend more time together than they would have found otherwise.
Dame Deborah James has visited the stall selling the beautiful bloom, which is breaking sales records, on a special out-of-hours tour of the Chelsea Flower Show. The cancer campaigner, 40, and her husband Sebastien enjoyed a tour of the show gardens with TV presenter Sophie Raworth
Deborah’s sister and mother as well as her daughter Eloise and nieces surprised her with a sleepover on May 31
Dame Deborah James was awarded a damehood from the Queen, which she received at home from Prince William on May 13
Deborah and cancer activist Lauren Mahon co-presented You, Me and the Big C with breast cancer campaigner Rachael Bland from March 2018 until her death later that year.
Rachael used the podcast as a platform to announce she had just days to live, prompting a surge in interest in the programme.
Dame Deborah started campaigning for greater awareness of bowel cancer symptoms on Instagram before transitioning to TV appearances.
Her co-presenters and producers said she was a ‘chaotic deviant’ with ‘unwashed hair’ who had a penchant for being late, dreamed of working in fashion and used a ‘Radio 4 voice’ when speaking in public.
By the end of her life she was a regular face on ITV’s Lorraine and successfully campaigned to have bowel cancer symptoms added to toilet roll packaging.
The team added that while she had a ‘fizzing’ and ‘vibrant’ personality, she was also a sensitive woman driven by changing the world and helping others.
They reflected on the small silver linings of her cancer diagnosis, including having more time with her children because she was forced to give up work as a teacher.
Deborah said that her cancer diagnosis made her a better mum, taking away her fear of the world.
Family friends said her children will be looking after Sebastien as much as he is looking after them after Deborah’s passing.