Jonnie Irwin has said his cancer has come back “so violently” that even doctors are surprised, in a new interview about spending what could be his last Christmas with his family.
The A Place in the Sun presenter, 48, disclosed in November that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2020. He initially kept his illness private, but said he decided to make the news public after learning it had spread from his lungs to his brain.
“I don’t know how long I have,” he said at the time, adding that doctors gave him “six months to live” a week after he flew back from filming when he experienced blurry vision while driving.
“We try to carry on as normal,” Irwin said in a new interview with The Daily Mail. “We made a decision not to mourn and to make the most of every day. I’m still working… I try to manufacture positive thoughts. People say, ‘How do you stay so upbeat?’ It’s a bit of an act, really.’”
The presenter explained that he had been given a “wonder drug” after initially being told he had six months to live: “They hoped it would keep it at bay for a bit longer, but it’s come back so violently, it’s even surprised the doctors.”
“I’ve been told I’ve got months to live,” he said. “We’re hurtling towards where we don’t want to be.”
Irwin’s wife, Jess, said the sadness she feels approaching “scares her”.
“Everyone says, ‘You’ll manage. You’ll be surprised.’ I’ve never had dark thoughts for myself but I wonder now: ‘How will I cope with the sadness?’” she said. “I know I’ll have to, for the boys. I’ll have to put a smile on my face. But it worries me, the great grief that will hit me.”
The couple share a three-year-old son, Rex, and two-year-old twins, Rafa and Cormac.
Discussing his decision to come forward with the diagnosis in November, Irwin said: “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. 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.”