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Jonnie Irwin says he ‘never thought’ he’d be alive to see his 50th birthday amid terminal cancer diagnosis

TV star Jonnie Irwin has admitted that he “never thought” he’d be alive to see his 50th birthday, which is next week.

Irwin, 49, who is best known for presenting property TV shows A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Country, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2022.

In January, Irwin threw an early 50th birthday party, ahead of the actual date next week, with a huge part with 170 friends and family.

But in a new interview, the presenter has said he will be jetting off on holiday to Spain with his family for his actual birthday.

“I never thought I’d be here,” Irwin told The Sun. “I’m really looking forward to some time with [wife] Jess and the boys.”

Irwin shares three young sons with his wife, Jessica Holmes. He has been praised for his transparency about his condition, and his experiences with various cancer treatments.

Since his diagnosis, Irwin has followed a strict diet and spends one to two hours a day in an O2Worx hyperbaric oxygen tent.

Jonnie Irwin photographed in March (Jonnie Irwin/Instagram)
Jonnie Irwin photographed in March (Jonnie Irwin/Instagram)

Some studies have shown that flooding the body with oxygen does not promote tumour growth and has been linked to preventing cancer growth.

In July this year, Irwin discussed his “really good” 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 the cancer spread to his brain.

His hospice experience was a “delight”, Irwin said, challenging his initial perception that such facilities were “very much a boiling hot room full of people who looked frail and towards the end of their days”.

In September, the presenter made his long-awaited return to TV when he hosted a new episode of Escape to the Country on BBC One.

Looking back at his time in a hospice six months ago, Irwin said he was “on the cusp of death”.

“Lying in the hospice, I thought I’d had it,” he told The Sun. ​​“But at my weakest point I thought, ‘This is it, this is the beginning of the end.’”

​​Irwin returned home and resumed his strict diet, drinking protein shakes and spending time in the oxygen tent to attempt to curb the growth of his cancer.

“I won’t let cancer define me,” Irwin told the publication from his newly renovated home in Newcastle.

“A friend of mine told me, ‘Your body achieves what your mind achieves’, and I want to live by that.”