The TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has revealed that he has terminal lung cancer which has spread to his brain. The 48-year-old, who presents Escape to the Country for the BBC, and A Place in the Sun for Channel 4, revealed his diagnosis in a recent interview with Hello Magazine.
Irwin said he noticed the first symptoms in August 2020, when his vision became blurry. Changes in vision are one of the symptoms of a brain tumour, according to the NHS. The other symptoms include headaches, seizures, persistent nausea, and mental confusion or personality changes.
Brain tumours can affect anyone, although they are more common in older people. They can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumours are classed as grade 1-2, and are less serious than grade 3 or 4 cancerous tumours.
Brain metastases occur when cancer cells spread from another site in the body, most commonly lung, breast, colon, and kidney cancer. They may be treated with surgery, radiotherapy, radiosurgery, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy, and sometimes a combination of two or more of these.
Irwin is married with a three-year-old son, and two-year-old twins. 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.”
He added: “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.”
Irwin said that he hoped that his positive attitude would inspire others who were going through a similar experience. Despite the devastating diagnosis which means that he may have just six months to live, he is determined to make the most of the remaining time available.
He said: “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 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.”
Irwin’s colleagues and fans of his TV shows took to Twitter to express their sadness at the news, commenting on Jonnie’s sunny personality and sense of humour.