UK News: Jonnie Irwin explains keeping 'terrifying' terminal cancer battle secret in first TV interview

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Jonnie Irwin kept his cancer diagnosis secret amid fears he'd lose television work.

The A Place In The Sun star, 49, revealed earlier this month he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, but he is determined to live every day rather than say he is dying from the disease. His young children - his two-year-old twins and his three-year-old son - are unaware of his diagnosis and he wants to keep it that way for the time being as not to worry them.

Jonnie claims he was axed by A Place In The Sun after his cancer diagnosis. They claimed they weren't able to get insurance for him to work abroad - but he says they didn't fight hard enough to keep them.

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He admitted he was "massively aggrieved" by their decision, as he just wanted to work to earn more money to support his family in the future. He said the cost of living crisis at present had made it even more important for him to secure their future financially.

Now opening up about his cancer diagnosis for the first time on TV, Jonnie spoke to Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard on Good Morning Britain about his new outlook on life - and why he kept his cancer a secret for so long.

Jonnie explained how he kept his cancer diagnosis secret out of fear of losing work © ITV Jonnie explained how he kept his cancer diagnosis secret out of fear of losing work

He said: "When people find out you've got cancer - I mean, I know what I felt when I just heard the words - it's just this terrifying thing, the word cancer, and I thought if I feel like that, everybody will feel like that.

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"And low and behold, I lost some work through it. I wanted to keep it a secret because professionally, I didn't want to lose work. Socially and emotionally too, people treat you differently and people start making decisions for you."

Jonnie added: "If I withheld that information, I found I could live a normal life right up until a year ago."

The TV presenter then explained that "busybodies" started noticing his weight loss, which meant he felt he couldn't keep it a secret anymore. He recalled one man who came up to him and said his wife 'said he was too thin'.

Jonnie chatted with Ben and Susanna on Good Morning Britain today © ITV Jonnie chatted with Ben and Susanna on Good Morning Britain today

Angry, Jonnie bit back at the man for his comment as he admitted people had been telling him to see a doctor and saying he "didn't look well" on social media. "What do people expect to gain from it?" he asked.

Jonnie also says A Place In The Sun axed him after his cancer diagnosis. The company said they weren't able to get insurance for the presenter to travel to the various locations for filming, but Jonnie doesn't think they did enough.

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"I feel massively aggrieved," he said, "My point was, I could work on Escape To The Country, that's the same show albeit better. I can travel away from home for three to four days and when I was told I couldn't do A Place In The Sun because they didn't think they could get insurance, it just broke my heart. I didn't think they thought for me."

He explained that he felt hurt by their decision - and praised Escape To The Country and A Place In The Sun's live events for allowing him to work and continue earning money for his family into the future. He explained how the current cost of living crisis has put an "added pressure" on him to earn money to financially solidify the future for his young family.

Jonnie Irwin claims A Place In The Sun didn't try hard enough to help him keep his job © FFTV Jonnie Irwin claims A Place In The Sun didn't try hard enough to help him keep his job

"I've been bowled over by some people in their desire to help me and to help me earn money for my family. Not working on A Place In The Sun affected my mental health. You get cancer and all the things associated with it - and then suddenly you get axed. Being a TV presenter almost defines you and not being able to travel and do what I think I'm pretty good, and not being able to provide for my family. Every show that I do now is money for my family and their future."

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A Place In The Sun's creators Freeform Productions have since released a statement to insist that "no stone was left unturned" in their bid to try and support Jonnie amid his diagnosis and help him to continue working.

"Jonnie has been a hugely important part of the A Place in The Sun family for over 18 years and all of us were deeply saddened by his diagnosis. Much loved by everyone on the production, no stone was left unturned in trying to enable Jonnie to continue his international filming with us during Covid but the production company were unable to secure adequate insurance cover for him," they said, "Whilst we were unable to continue to film abroad with him, we’re delighted that he was able to remain as part of our team in the UK for exhibitions. We of course understand how frustrating this must be for him at this incredibly difficult time."

For the meantime, Jonnie just wants to make sure his three children have the best Christmas and his wife is planning to film everything that happens during this time of year so his children can keep it as a memory for when they're older.

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