Johnny Ruffo—who played Chris Harrington on Home and Away from 2013 to 2016—died at age 35 following a long battle with a rare brain cancer, per a post on his Instagram page Nov. 9. He passed away peacefully while surrounded by his family and partner Tahnee Sims, according to the statement.
“It is with a heavy heart that today we had to farewell our beloved Johnny,” the message read. “He was a very talented, charming and sometimes cheeky boy. Johnny was very determined and had a strong will.”
In the tribute post, his loved ones also praised his strength and positivity.
“He battled all the way to the end and fought as hard as he could. Such a beautiful soul with so much more to give,” they continued. “We all love you Johnny and will remember you for all the joy you brought to our lives.”
The Australian actor gained fame on his country’s edition of The X Factor in 2011 and won their Dancing With the Stars the following year. After shooting to stardom on Home and Away, he appeared in the TV miniseries House of Bond in 2017 and the soap opera Neighbours in 2020. However, Ruffo later wrote in his book No Finish Line that fame took a toll on him.
“Johnny found it hard to resist the weekend-long parties, drugs, alcohol and fair-weather friends that came with the territory,” per a book synopsis. “He had started suffering from severe headaches when his girlfriend, Tahnee, noticed something was also wrong with his speech.”
He was rushed to hospital and prepped for surgery for a nearly three-inch tumor.
“Johnny was ultimately diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, with which—despite a period of remission—he still battles today,” the summary continued. “But in a strange way Johnny thinks the cancer actually saved his life.”
After his cancer returned in 2020, he continued documenting his health journey on social media, including photos from his chemotherapy appointments.
“After an unexpected week of seizures and excruciating headaches,” Ruffo wrote on Instagram in November 2020, “it is with a heavy heart that i have to let you know i now have another huge battle ahead of me as my brain cancer has returned, though i will dig deep and beat this s–t disease again.”
In another post, the singer promised to “smash this chemo,” writing to fans, “Thank you so much for all the support, You guys have helped keep my spirits high and you keep me fighting.”
Ruffo was able to share his story through the release of his book in August 2022, when he celebrated the major milestone with his partner.
“Proud of you everyday,” Sims, 29, wrote to him on Instagram at the time, “but watching you smash yet another goal whilst dealing with everything you have been dealt is inspiring beyond words. You are one of a kind.”
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