The former Home and Away star pays tribute to an ‘incredible’ co-star and shares his latest health update.
Johnny Ruffo’s career was flourishing as he toured with acts like One Direction and appeared in the television series Home and Away, “kicking goals and unable to miss.”
But after the pop musician and actor had a 10-hour procedure after being told he had a brain tumour in 2017, “the roof came crashing down.”
Ruffo persevered through his initial battle with the illness, and in 2019 his doctors said he was in remission.
However, the cancer came back in 2020, and tragically, it is deadly.
In a candid interview for the publication of his new book, No Finish Line, Ruffo opened up to 7Entertainment about the dramatic highs and lows of his professional and personal life.
Ruffo debated whether to apply when the 2009 X-Factor auditions were announced.
The Perth-born singer was a concreter at the time and worried that if he didn’t succeed, he would have “felt like a failure.”
Ruffo decided to audition at the last minute, barely making the time limit by 30 seconds.
He claims that his timely arrival was “destiny,” and he feels that if he had not made the leap, he would still be working as a labourer for builders today.
“What could possibly go wrong, they could say no? The world is not about to end, the 34-year-old claims.
The performer continues by saying that despite working his “a** off” the entire time, he was able to place in the top three.
Despite coming in third, Ruffo rapidly gained recognition and joined bands like One Direction and the Backstreet Boys on tour.
I was generally content with the direction I chose, he says.
“I had shows, concerts, and performances, and I was really pleased with how everything was going,” she said.
Home and Away
The singer from On Top then appeared in Summer Bay for three years as Chris Harrington on Home and Away.
Despite having a 35-year age gap, Ruffo and veteran actress Lynne McGranger developed a beautiful bond.
He chuckles as he remembers the inside jokes they used to make on one another.
He claims that he used to try to rile her up backstage so that she would forget her lines.
I would play around with it and crack jokes with Lynne.
They are “very good friends,” according to the actor, and McGranger has been a tremendous support for him during his battle with cancer.
She visited me when I was healing in the hospital, and she has since come to see me at home and brought me out to lunch, according to Ruffo.
She has been a fantastic support.
I’m 34 and she’s… older, but she’s honestly one of my best friends, which is the oddest thing ever, he chuckles.
Ruffo met his partner Tahnee Sims, whom he now refers to as his “guardian angel,” while working on Home and Away in 2015.
They first connected on Instagram before finally meeting in person while she was a backup dancer.
By writing “For Tahnee, my guardian angel,” Ruffo dedicated his book to his girlfriend in 2022.
Sims felt it was “very lovely,” according to Ruffo, who was speaking about her response to the honour, and she told him, “You didn’t have to write that.”
He claims to have said to Sims, “It’s true, it’s the truth.”
Without his girlfriend, Ruffo claims he “literally would not be here” because “she’s been there for me countless times where it’s been touch and go.”
The musician claims that he had intended to “sleep off” what he believed to be just a headache prior to his first battle with cancer.
Sims, however, had a different opinion and told him to go to the hospital.
His life would be saved by her instincts.
“The surgeon claimed, “We wouldn’t have discovered the tumour if you hadn’t come in for the MRI. The following morning, you wouldn’t have awakened, Ruffo claims.
Ruffo reminisces about that day and claims that when they “rushed me to the MRI, they found a tumour (that was) seven centimetres” (about the size of a tennis ball), they discovered.
“I was vomiting and unable to speak or string together a sentence because it was exerting so much pressure on my brain.
“So they as of now identified the root of all this.”
In an effort to reduce the tumour, Ruffo underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Infertility is one of the treatment’s serious negative effects, though.
Ruffo claimed in his book that, prior to developing cancer, partying, acting, music recording, and his fiancée were the only things that mattered in his life.
However, all of a sudden, he was forced to decide “if it was necessary to freeze my sperm just in case I became infertile.”
Ruffo tells 7Entertainment that he and Sims considered it “lucky” that they had never intended to start a family.
“We’ve never wanted kids, but it was more of a ‘just in case one day we ever change our minds’ debate,” he explains.
“As of yet we haven’t (changed our minds) but if we ever do it’s nice to have that backup plan.”
In 2019, Ruffo revealed he was in remission.
“Oh man, no more chemo, no more radiotherapy, no more trips to the hospital,” he says of his thoughts upon learning he may have beaten the disease.
He says his trips to hospital had become so frequent he knew “every bump in the road” between there and his house, and was excited to start taking different routes.
Tragically, Ruffo’s headaches returned a year later.
He had to wait four months before being seen by a specialist despite having a history of brain cancer.
The hardest, according to Ruffo, was having this fear that the illness may have returned but having to wait weeks for any confirmation.
The tension soars to unimaginable heights, he claims, and you are left waiting forever.
“And it’s like it feels like six months, but it’s only a week. And that’s just honestly… a day feels like a month.”
It was not until the actor had 11 seizures in four days that he was rushed to hospital and had an MRI scan.
The scan found multiple new tumours.
“It was horrible,” Ruffo says about one of the 11 seizures he can recall.
“All I remember was my jaw clenching up and I couldn’t open it.
“All I felt was like my jaw clenched up and my mouth started filling with saliva.
“And I just froze.”
Sims subsequently remarked that she found it “terrifying to witness.”
He acknowledges, “I can only fathom what it was like for her… I can’t.”
“It had to be terrible. What it would be like to witness her go through that is beyond my comprehension.
Finding out that his cancer had returned and had “brought a friend along,” as Ruffo put it in his book, “was like salt in an already gaping wound,” he wrote.
The singer tells 7Entertainment, “It felt like another kick in the teeth… yeah, dammit.”
Brave Ruffo now has a new “objective” after receiving a terminal diagnosis.
Ruffo said when asked what he thought cancer treatment success looked like: “Just time now, I suppose. more time to spend with loved ones
He is looking forwards to Christmas since it will be the first time he has seen Michael, his brother and “best buddy,” in three years.
Despite having a two-year age difference, the two are “thick as thieves.”
“I haven’t seen my brother in three years, and he’s coming home for Christmas because he now lives in Ireland.
We are as shrewd as thieves. He is truly my hero and everything to me. And I’m eager to meet him.
“I’m not sure how I’ll respond.
I can’t wait; he’s the best.
No Finish Line, he explained, meant that it “wasn’t the end.”
“I know the cancer is terminal, but you know, I’m going to do everything I can and I’m doing everything I can right now to kick its a**,” the patient said.
Goals for the future
The 34-year-old revealed his objectives and said he intended to keep up with music, put himself forwards for acting jobs, and look into presenting.
Just what I was doing before, he said.
In reference to his 2017 diagnosis, he adds, “I felt like I was just kicking goals and I just couldn’t miss, and then all of a sudden the roof came crashing down.”
“I mean, God dammit,” I thought. Everything suddenly came to a halt.
“And it was going so well; I felt like I was accomplishing everything I set out to do.
I kind of want to pick up where I left off since “everything was just going in the correct direction for me.”
Current health update
Ruffo claims he is “very okay” and gives an update on his present health.
He is undergoing chemotherapy once more and says the procedure is unpleasant.
“I feel f***ing awful. Even climbing a flight of steps always leaves me exhausted, he claims.
“By the time I reach the summit, all I want to do is sleep.”
Every three weeks, Ruffo claims, he gets chemotherapy injections.
No Finish Line: The Johnny Ruffo Story, Ruffo’s book, is currently for sale.