Jonnie Irwin says he hasn’t told his kids about his terminal cancer diagnosis

‘Why would I shatter that innocence?’ Irwin said

Laura Hampson
Wednesday 16 November 2022 07:32 GMT
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TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has said he has not told his children about his terminal cancer diagnosis.

The presenter of BBC’s Escape To The Country and Channel 4’s A Place In The Sun told Hello! magazine earlier this week that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread to his brain.

While Irwin, 48, has told his family and close friends about the diagnosis, he said that he has not yet told his and wife Jessica’s, 40, three kids: Rex, three; and two-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac.

“He doesn’t need to know yet,” Irwin told the publication in reference to his eldest son.

“We make fun of my hair — he calls it my ‘spiky head’ — but as far as he’s concerned, his dad is normal and why would I shatter that innocence?”

Irwin also didn’t tell his work about the diagnosis for a while, but said it “felt like I was carrying a dirty secret, it’s become a monkey on my back”.

He added: “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.”

The presenter also revealed that the first warning sign of the disease came in August 2020. He was filming in Italy when his vision went blurry.

Jonnie Irwin with his wife and kids (PA/Hello! magazine)

“Within a week of flying back from filming, I was being given six months to live,” he explained.

“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.”

Irwin added that he wants to do as much as he can with his family in the time he has left.

“My attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it,” he explained.

“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.”

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