Health Scare Doesn't Mean You Can't Celebrate Milestones
- “Escape to the Country” reality TV star Jonnie Irwin, 49, suffers a health scare that left him hospitalized while battling stage 4 lung cancer. Despite his minor setback, Irwin is back with his family and is preparing to celebrate his milestone 50th birthday a year after learning the cancer had spread beyond his lungs.
- Irwin was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer that has since spread to his brain. He’s undergone treatment to manage his symptoms, including palliative care.
- Since his diagnosis, Irwin has focused on creating cherished moments and lasting memories for his family, especially his three young children.
- Lung cancer is one of the most challenging cancers to deal with because, during its early stages, it’s often asymptomatic. Once the cancer has spread beyond the lungs, it becomes more difficult to treat. Often, X-rays can detect lung cancer by pinpointing unusual spots on scans.
- Experts recommend anyone facing cancer should make sure they continue to prioritize their overall well-being, which includes emotional health, by doing things they love.
Popular TV presenter Jonnie Irwin, 49, had a health scare that landed him in the hospital with jaundice, which presents as a yellow discoloration on the skin or the eyes and could be a symptom of another condition. The health scare worried some concerned fans as Irwin is battling stage 4 lung cancer.
Irwin, best known for his role on the “Escape to the Country” reality TV show, said he had a fever and acute stabbing pain.
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“I probably had an infection and otter issues, which I won’t bore you with. Been on drops, regular bloods taken and have observations every four hours through the day and night,” Irwin wrote in an Instagram post.
While under the doctor’s care, Irwin said his blood tests and scans showed his liver function was improving. However, he hinted at “bigger issues” he will deal with in a few weeks.
The beloved and resilient reality TV star didn’t remain still for long because hours after returning home from the hospital, he and his family packed up for a family getaway to Spain.
“I’m feeling a bit better. I’m still slightly jaundiced, but I’m about to jump on a flight for southern Spain,” Irwin said while walking through an airport. He added he cleared his trip with his oncologist and hoped his liver would continue to improve.
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He credits part of his “success” amid his cancer journey for not always “following the rules.”
Irwin is just days away from celebrating his 50th birthday. While he didn’t indicate the occasion for his travels, many of his supporters are tying his milestone birthday to his family vacation.
“Enjoy celebrating your birthday with your lovely family and enjoy the sunshine,” Instagram user Karen Greenwood wrote.
“Enjoy every moment with your beautiful family, Jonnie,” Instagram user Debbie Todd wrote.
Spending time with his family has been among Irwin’s top priorities since his stage 4 diagnosis. He said he wanted to create lasting positive memories for his wife and three young boys.
Helping Patients Through Lung Cancer Journey
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- How To Deal With A New Metastatic Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Jonnie Irwin’s Hopeful Journey
Jonnie Irwin’s cancer journey began when symptoms arrived in August 2020. His first symptom occurred during a filming trip when his vision blurred while driving. After he returned home, he was told he had metastatic lung cancer that had spread to his brain.
One of the most problematic parts of lung cancer is its lack of symptoms until the cancer has already spread, says SurvivorNet medical advisor Dr. Joseph Friedberg. However, once a person suspected of having lung cancer experiences symptoms, their doctor can further investigate the cause with an X-ray to look for anything unusual.
“The question is, well, what stage is it? And so, at this point, the entire workup is an effort to try and determine, do we think that the cancer is spread anywhere? And the things that you would ask for about lung cancer– specifically, any change in your breathing? Do you have a cough? Have you lost any weight? Do you have any pain anywhere? All of these things start to tick off in your head whether they have other potential problems,” Dr. Friedberg said.
We should note that we do not know the exact type of lung cancer Irwin has. However, there are two main types of lung cancer, which doctors group together based on how they act and how they’re treated:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type and makes up about 85% of cases.
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is less common, but it tends to grow faster than NSCLC and is treated very differently.
WATCH: Diagnosing Lung Cancer
Some people with lung cancer may experience symptoms like:
- A cough that doesn’t go away, that gets worse, or that brings up bloody phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Hoarse voice
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
Irwin has since taken chemotherapy and other cancer drugs to help prolong his life, but Irwin knows his disease does not technically have a cure. Still, he’s focusing on the positive, which includes his supportive wife, Jessica Holmes, and their three toddler-age boys.
“One day, this is going to catch up with me,” Irwin said during an interview with the U.K.-based news outlet “The Sun.”
“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.”
“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,” Jonnie told Hello Magazine in an interview.
Questions for Your Doctor
If you are facing a lung cancer diagnosis, this is likely to be an emotional time for you and your family. To help you along your journey, here are some questions to ask your doctor that can guide your treatment path.
- How aggressively should my lung cancer treatment be?
- Am I eligible for immunotherapy therapy for lung cancer? Will I be likely to respond to this treatment?
- Do I have any genetic mutation that would change the course of my treatment?
- How long does it take to get my NGS testing results?
- Do you need both the tissue sample and blood samples for NGS testing?
- Is there a clinical trial that would be relevant for me?