The dynamic Johnny Ruffo was always meant for the spotlight as a triple threat – actor, singer, and dancer.
The 34-year-old rose to fame as a brilliant heartthrob on The X Factor in 2011 – ultimately finishing third in the season won by Reece Mastin.
Johnny’s experience on television didn’t end there; two years later, he launched his acting career with a highly wanted role as Chris Harrington on Home and Away, which he held from 2013 until 2016.
Johnny juggled a music career and eventually departed the long-running serial to focus completely on his musical ambitions during his Summer Bay days.
Then it all came crumbling down with a health bombshell that no one saw coming, not even Johnny.
The detection of a brain tumour and the subsequent emergency surgery
Johnny stunned friends and admirers when he revealed on Instagram in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer and had undergone emergency surgery to remove a seven-centimetre tumour.
Johnny also shared a disturbing photo of his head sewn up following the life-saving eight-hour surgery, which left him with 27 staples in his head.
Johnny spoke to New Idea about his condition and explained how close he had been to catastrophe in his first interview after the surgery.
In September 2017, Johnny disclosed, “Without the operation, there was a 100 percent likelihood I would have died due to the pressure on my head.”
Because the tumour was so close to nerve endings, physicians were compelled to leave 5 percent of it remain.
Johnny was incoherent for the first two days after the operation.
In an interview with New Idea, he chuckled, “I was spouting crap, even worse than normal.”
“Within days, I was back to my old self.” I felt much better, much lighter. I felt confident, and I was certain everything would be OK. It was going to be a benign tumour, no problem.”
There is a long and difficult trip ahead
Unfortunately, “everything was OK,” and Johnny was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer that affects only 3% of all cancer patients, and he began a long path of chemo and radiation.
Johnny spoke up about the physical toll that treatment was having on him in September 2018.
“I believe chemo is the hardest,” Johnny told Daily Mail Australia. “You’re vomiting and feeling like total crap and terrible.”
“I suppose you have to take the good with the bad.” You appreciate the good days even more since you never know when they’ll come or how far apart they’ll be. Overall, I’ve maintained an optimistic attitude throughout the whole.”
Tahnee Sims’ steadfast support for her husband
Johnny’s girlfriend Tahnee Sims, whom he met at a dancing studio in 2015, has been a rock throughout it all.
“Without her, I might not be here,” he told Now To Love in October 2020, adding that it was her insistence that he get tested when he was suffering from a migraine that prompted him to seek medical attention.
“When the headaches first started, she was the one who forced me to get in the car and drive to the hospital. She’s also motivating me to try new things. She motivates me to exercise by encouraging me to go for runs and swims.”
It was a sentiment he expressed two years ago at the Avant Garde Brain Cancer charity ball when speaking to Daily Mail Australia about Tahnee.
“She’s been fantastic.” I can’t say I blame her. Johnny said, “She’s been there for me every step of the way, from the day I was diagnosed until now.”
“She’s been nothing short of incredible. It’s been great since she’s been my rock.”
While Tahnee has been there for Johnny during his difficult times, the couple has also been able to spend pleasant times together.
In a November 2019 interview with Now To Love, Johnny explained the secret to their unbreakable friendship.
“We’re just having a good time. We have a lot of fun making each other laugh. You know that gut-wrenching chuckle that makes your eyes well up with tears? “The singer of Broken Glass gushed.
“We quarrel and argue like any other relationship, but we also make up. You know how we kiss and put on makeup?”
And it appears that the feeling is mutual, as Tahnee frequently expresses her love for her partner in public, referring to him as “the strongest person she knows.”
Getting the green light: a brief reprieve
Johnny celebrated a significant milestone in 2019 after two years of battling the insidious cancer.
Doctors gave the actor the all-clear, and he turned to Instagram to compare a 2017 scan of his brain to a 2019 scan of the same thing.
Johnny was ecstatic as he proclaimed his cancer-free status alongside the image.
“I’m very grateful to have beaten this dreadful cancer two years ago vs today. Thank you so much for your help!” In the caption, Johnny wrote.
Although physicians’ assurances that he was well, Johnny frankly said that despite feeling “far better – both physically and psychologically” during this time, he still felt “anxious” going to check-ups.
“I’m always prepared for the worst. I’m not sure why. In November 2019, he said Now To Love, “I just assume the worst and when they say, ‘Oh, you’re still OK mate,’ I say, ‘[pauses]… thank you.”
“It’s hard not to,” he explained, “because I don’t want to get my hopes up only to be told, ‘Oh, we’ve seen this, you might have to take some more chemo.” It is most likely not a terrible thing. It just makes me nervous in the lead-up to it. It’s not enjoyable.”
Johnny’s cancer has returned, which is a terrible finding
Johnny was delivered a sad blow almost exactly one year later: the cancer had returned.
In November 2020, the musician broke the heartbreaking news to his Instagram followers and vowed to fight the cancer.
“It is with a sad heart that I have to let you know that after an unexpected week of seizures and severe headaches, I now have another enormous struggle ahead of me as my brain cancer has returned,” he said with a photo of himself and girlfriend Tahnee.
“However, I’m going to dig deep and overcome this sht disease once more #fckcancer”
In June 2021, he gave his most frank interview yet for Channel Seven’s Spotlight, and it was evident that his determination had not waned.
He promised, “I’m going to fight tooth and nail.” “Every second of every day has an added significance.”