Johnny Ruffo takes on his biggest challenge
Published: 04 October 2017
Prompt action gives him best chance of beating brain cancer
Even after surgery, Johnny didn’t lose his winning smile
He first found fame on talent quest X-Factor, and since then Johnny Ruffo has had a successful singing career as well as moving into acting, playing Home and Away’s Chris Harrington.
Last year the 29-year-old star announced he’d be moving on to bigger and better things in 2017. What he didn’t realise was that this year would include the fight of his life – beating brain cancer.
On the 7th of August, Johnny was relaxing at home with his long term girlfriend Tahnee when he began getting a migraine.
Johnny had been getting headaches for years, but put them down to too much partying and knocks to the head while playing sport. But this was different.
“I couldn’t even speak, my sentences weren’t making any sense, they were all jumbled up,” he says.
Tahnee suggested they go to the emergency department, who admitted Johnny. At first doctors thought that it was only a migraine. But by morning, Johnny had slipped into a coma, and an MRI CT scan revealed a tumour.
Tahnee was rushed back to hospital to give her permission for surgery – being told that there was a 1 in 20 chance that Johnny would die from the operation.
The surgery took 8 hours to remove 95 percent of the 7 cm tumour. And worse news was to come – the tumour was cancerous, leaving Johnny devastated.
“I was almost certain it wasn’t going to be malignant, I had this feeling it would be non-cancerous, benign,” he recalls.
But in fact the tumour was a rare malignant stage three cancer -an oligodendroglioma - located in the right frontal lobe of his brain, which could have been growing there for anything up to 10 years.
Doctors told Johnny that being rushed to hospital had almost certainly saved his life. Furthermore, the symptoms of depression that he’d been treating were almost certainly being caused by the tumour pressing on his brain.
But Johnny’s battle is far from over. To treat the remaining tumour, Johnny’s receiving radiotherapy at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney.
After that, he’ll start chemotherapy. But the prognosis looks up.
“It’s generally quite positive - the type of tumour it is and the strand it is reacts best to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, so fingers crossed after 6 months of chemo I’m in the clear and get on with normal life.”
And Johnny’s wasted no time trying to fight brain cancer on a wider front. He’s become the National Ambassador for Walk For Brain Cancer, which kicks off around the country this month.
For more information about brain cancer visit the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s website.
Tonight, Carrie has a one-on-one chat with Johnny about the shock news and the impact on his life.