Terminally Ill Jonnie Irwin Says ‘I Am Living with Cancer Rather than Dying from Cancer’
The British TV presenter, who is battling terminal lung cancer, says he’s looking to leave a legacy of help that will make his family proud
Jonnie Irwin is looking ahead to the future.
The British TV presenter, who revealed he had terminal lung cancer last year, spoke about his health on a new podcast, OneChat, and talked about how his diagnosis has shaped his outlook on life.
“I am living with cancer rather than dying from cancer,” he said on the May 24 podcast. "As soon as you say you’ve got cancer, people just write you off…[But] the day I came out and told the world that I had cancer, terminal cancer, is the day I started living again.”
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Irwin, now 49, was first diagnosed in August 2020 after he was in Italy filming for Channel 4's house-hunting reality show A Place in the Sun, and experienced blurred vision while driving. A series of tests soon confirmed the cancer.
"Within a week of flying back from filming, I was being given six months to live," he recalled, noting the impact it would have on his wife Jessica and their three children, Rex, now 3, and twins Rafa and Cormac, who were only 2 months old at the time.
"How do you tell a woman who only two months before had had twins?” he said on the podcast. “All I can remember is hugging her and just saying sorry.”
After revealing his diagnosis, Irwin said he was let go from A Place in the Sun.
"As soon as people find out you've got cancer, they write you off," he explained. "Yes, I have stage four, and it's terminal — but not yet, so let me live my life while I can."
He admitted on the podcast that the potential loss of income was why he initially hid his diagnosis.
“The only reason I kept it a secret is because I’ve got to feed my babies,” he said in the podcast.
“It’s expensive business, dying.”
But Irwin doesn’t regret revealing his diagnosis; Rather, he credits it with his new outlook on life.
"I started being Jonnie Irwin again and I actually feel alive,” Irwin said.
A big part of his motivation these days? Leaving behind a legacy of help that his family — especially his sons — can cherish.
“One of the things that really inspired me to go public was because I will leave a little footprint on this planet because of a TV career but I want to leave a positive footprint,” he said. “I think I can educate people into living their lives better, then I’ve got something my boys can be proud of.”
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Irwin’s been taking steps to leave behind a personal legacy as well: Although his birthday isn’t until November, he threw an early 50th birthday party in March, and said he’s relying on modern technology to record messages for his family to watch after he’s died.
As he told the BBC, “It's amazing to think I too could speak to my wife and children after I pass away."
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