‘It’s not the doom and gloom you might think’: Jonnie Irwin details experience with palliative hospice care

The TV presenter revealed his terminal cancer diagnosis last November

Kate Ng
Monday 24 July 2023 11:49 BST
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Jonnie Irwin speaks of palliative care after terminal cancer diagnosis

Jonnie Irwin has spoken out about his “really good” experience with palliative care in a hospice, amid his journey with terminal cancer.

The A Place In The Sun presenter, 49, appeared on BBC Morning Live on Monday (24 July) and gave viewers an update on his current health and treatment.

Reassuring hosts Gethin Jones and Helen Skelton that his family is doing “great and very noisy”, Irwin was asked about his experience with palliative care, which focuses on improving the quality of life for anyone facing a life-threatening condition.

Irwin said that he has been in palliative care since the day he received his terminal cancer diagnosis. He was first diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2020, but only publicly shared the news in November 2022 after it spread to his brain.

He described his hospice experience as a “delight”, adding that his initial perception of such facilities were that they were “very much a boiling hot room full of people who looked frail and towards the end of their days”.

However, it was “nothing of the sort” when he did actually go in. “It’s spacious, energised, comfortable,” Irwin told the show, adding: “I’ve had a really, really good experience at my hospice.”

He urged anyone who is facing a terminal diagnosis to “embrace” end-of-life care and to try going to a hospice if they have been offered the choice.

“My first experience of palliative care and hospice was blood transfusions,” he explained. “I had my first blood transfusion in hospital and then was invited to use the hospice, so I have it a go as a day patient and went into a lovely room.

“I implore people to check out hospices. If you’ve got the choice of using it, then use it… I encourage people to explore that option because it’s not the doom and gloom operation you might think it was.”

In June, Irwin made a rare red carpet appearance at the Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC) Awards and said he is taking “every day as a gift as it comes”.

When he first revealed his terminal cancer diagnosis, the Escape To The Country host said he “doesn’t know how long” he has left to live, but hopes he will inspire people to “make the most of every day”.

He also celebrated his “best ever” Father’s Day last month with his three sons, Rex, four, and twins Rafa and Cormac, three, with wife Jessica Holmes.

Irwin recently revealed that sometimes he has to “remove himself” from his family home to go to a hospice when he is in a lot of pain because it makes him “not good to be around”.

He told Hello! magazine: “I’m like a bear with a sore head and I don’t want [my family] to be around that.”

In another appearance with podcast OneChat previously, he said that being in pain affects his mood, explaining: “I have been close to death’s door, twice at least. You lose your memory, you lose your patience. I have got a very short temper. It’s not made me a better person, that’s for sure.”

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