Popular television star Jonnie Irwin has revealed he has been given just ‘months to live’ after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Speaking for the first time in an exclusive interview with HELLO! magazine, the BBC’s Escape to the Country host said he has been diagnosed with lung cancer, which has spread to his brain.
The 48-year-old said he has been keeping his illness private but decided to make it public in a bid to get “the monkey off my back.” Speaking alongside his wife Jessica, 40, with whom he shares three children - Rex, three, and two-year-old twins, Rafa and Cormac, 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. 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."
Jonnie revealed that he first got the first warning sign when he was filming for A Place in the Sun for Channel 4 in Italy in August 2020, as his vision went blurry while driving. Tests soon revealed that he had lung cancer which had spread to his brain.
He said: “Within a week of flying back from filming, I was being given six months to live. I had to go home and tell my wife, who was looking after our babies, that she was pretty much on her own. That was devastating. All I could do was apologise to her. I felt so responsible.”
He also said cancer drugs and chemotherapy have helped prolong his prognosis while he has continued to work as much as possible. Throughout, only a very small group of friends and family knew about his diagnosis but now he wants to open up about his illness in the hope that it may inspire others.
He said: "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.
In the interview, Jonnie also wants to encourage people to take out life insurance, which he finally did when the twins were born. He said: "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."