Johnny Ruffo praises girlfriend amidst cancer battle: 'Difficult'

Former Home and Away star Johnny Ruffo has given an emotional update about living with terminal cancer.

The star first discovered he had a brain tumour in 2017 but was declared cancer free in 2019. Sadly, his cancer returned and the young actor revealed it was terminal in August 2022.

L: Home and Away star Johnny Ruffo in hospital. R: Johnny Ruffo and girlfriend Tahnee Sims at a theme park
The former Home and Away star has shared his health battle with fans through social media. Photo: Instagram/johnny_ruffo

In a candid chat with Yahoo Lifestyle, the pop singer tells us that his girlfriend ‘keeps him strong’, shares what ‘inspires’ him, and reveals his Christmas wish.

Johnny is open about how much he leans on long-term girlfriend Tahnee Sims. The couple have been dating since 2015, and she has supported Johnny throughout his entire health battle. Although his cancer is terminal, it doesn’t mean he’s ready to give up.

“I’m still doing chemotherapy and still battling along, just one foot in front of the other, one step at the time,” he tells us. “It is a challenge,” he admits, before adding that he’s “so lucky” to have Tahnee by his side.


The X Factor star is conscious of the fact that his girlfriend is going through a tough journey herself. “I feel like she’s battling as much as I am, but also she has to put up with me,” he quips. “Without her, it’d definitely be a lot harder.”

Johnny hopes that the pair will be able to travel more in the future, and admits that Tahnee is keen to tie the knot.

“She’s definitely given me the hint about you know, getting engaged. [She says] ’Ooh, I like this ring, and I like that one’, So I think that might be on the cards maybe, I’m definitely getting the nudge nudge,” he spills.

Two photos of Tahnee Sims and Johnny Ruffo
Johnny's girlfriend Tahnee has been supporting the star throughout his health battle. Photo: Instagram/johnny_ruffo

Starlight Children’s Foundation kids ‘inspire’ the star

Johnny lights up when he starts to tell us about his latest partnership with Amazon Australia and the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

The charity focuses on bringing joy to sick children, using ‘play, social connection and creativity’ to get kids through ‘their toughest times’.

The star was involved in making a stop-motion video with Hi-5’s Charli Robinson and children from the charity, also known as ‘Amazon Playmakers’. Some proceeds from toy sales will go directly to the non-profit, along with a huge haul of toys.

“Every toy that’s purchased from the stop motion video, [Amazon Australia are] donating $1 [per toy] up to $45,000. [This is] on top of $55,000 worth of toys, up to $100,000,” he explains.

“You can’t put a price on it, how much it means to these kids…the Starlight Children’s Foundation can do so much with this.”

Johnny Ruffo with two children from the Starlight Children's Foundation
Johnny loved working with the Starlight Children's Foundation kids. Photo: Supplied

The actor says that connecting with the children was so much fun, and he loved putting a smile on their faces. Although he’s worked on the campaign for a number of years, he spills that making this particular video was ‘the most fun’ he’s had.

“You know, I have my own battles as well. But these kids, they’re so strong — they have such resilience and just seeing that you’re like, ‘Wow. If these kids can muster up the strength to be able to get through what they’re going through, then surely I can’.

“They are absolutely inspiring.”

Johnny Ruffo signing copies of his book 'No Finish Line'
The star recently released a book called 'No Finish Line'. Photo: Instagram/johnny_ruffo

‘Nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow’

Johnny has maintained a positive attitude throughout his health battle, and he prefers to make memories now rather than focusing on the future.

“Whether you’ve got an illness or not…nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. So you have to live in the now, and you have to enjoy every day as it comes, that’s where I am at the moment,” he says.

While he’s worried about how Tahnee will cope if he loses his cancer battle, he’s making an effort to tell those he loves how much he means to him.

“I suppose it’s inevitable for the ones that you love that at some point they’re going to have to go through something that’s quite difficult,” he admits. “So try and spend as much time as you can with them. Create great memories. And so when they do think about you, they think of the good things and they smile.”

Johnny Ruffo with his brother Michael Ruffo on Santa's lap when they were children
Johnny is close to his brother Michael, but they haven't seen each other for years. Photo: Instagram/michael_ruffo_86

The star has one Christmas wish this year, and he’s ecstatic that it’s set to come true. His brother Michael, who Johnny considers his ‘hero’, is travelling to Australia to spend Christmas with family.

While the siblings speak often on the phone, Michael lives in Ireland and hasn’t seen Johnny in person for years.

“I haven’t seen my brother in three years. My brother is my absolute hero, I love him to bits,” he spills. “He’s going back to Perth, so we’re going back to Perth and we’ll spend Christmas together. I can’t wait."

“My Christmas wish is getting to see my brother. So I’m definitely getting that this year,” he says.

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