Jonnie Irwin says going public with terminal cancer diagnosis was day he began ‘living again’
Jonnie Irwin has revealed that he felt like he was living a lie before he was honest with the world about his terminal cancer diagnosis.
The Escape to the Country presenter, 49, said in November that he “doesn’t know how long” he has left to live, after first being diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2020.
Irwin, who also fronted the Channel 4 property programme A Place In The Sun, kept his cancer a secret among close friends and family for two years, before deciding to share the news in November 2022 when his cancer spread to his brain.
In a new podcast launched on Wednesday (24 May) titled OneChat, by life insurance company AIG Life, Irwin has revealed that he hated hiding his condition from the world.
"The day I came out and told the world I had terminal cancer is the day I started living again, I started being Jonnie Irwin again and I actually feel alive,” Irwin said.
The presenter explained that he kept his terminal diagnosis a secret out of fear he would lose work.
“The only reason I kept it a secret is because I’ve got to feed my babies, I’ve got pay the bills because when you’ve got cancer, people write you off,” he said in the podcast.
Irwin and his wife Jessica have three children; three-year-old son Rex and two-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac.
“I had to keep on providing for my family. I was living with such a dark cloud above me… anyone outside of my tight-knit [circle] didn’t know.”
This “dark cloud” meant Irwin would hide from photographs and selfies with fans as his appearance started changing after chemotherapy.
He said that telling the world was a “massive weight” off of his shoulders.
“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 but I think I can educate people into living their lives better, then I’ve got something my boys can be proud of.”
In March, Irwin gave a health update, telling The Sun: “I’m weak now, fragile and my memory is terrible… but I’m still here.”