During his Summer Bay days, Johnny juggled a music career and eventually left the long-running soap to focus solely on his musical aspirations.
Then, it all came crashing down with a health bombshell that no-one – not even Johnny himself – saw coming.
Brain tumour discovery and emergency surgery
In 2017, Johnny shocked friends and fans alike when he took to Instagram to reveal he had been diagnosed with brain cancer and had undergone emergency surgery to remove a seven-centimetre tumour.
Along with the news, Johnny shared a confronting image of his head stitched up after the life-saving eight-hour surgery that left him with 27 staples in his head.
In his first interview after the surgery, Johnny spoke to New Idea about his condition and revealed just how close he had come to tragedy.
"Without the operation, there was a 100% certainty I would have died because of the pressure on my brain," Johnny revealed in September 2017.
While they removed 95% of the tumour, doctors were forced to leave behind 5% because of how close it was to nerve endings.
For the first two days after the operation Johnny was incoherent.
“I was talking garbage, even worse than usual,” he laughed in the interview with New Idea.
“Within days I was back to being myself again. I felt a lot better, lighter. I was confident, I was just sure it was all fine. The tumour was going to be benign, no problem.”
WATCH: Johnny Ruffo says he could have died in his sleep on The Project (story continues below)
A long and difficult journey ahead
Unfortunately, "it was all fine" wasn’t the case and Johnny was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer which only affects three percent of all cancer patients and embarked on a long journey of chemo and radiation.
In September 2018, Johnny opened up about the physical toll that treatment was taking on him.
“During chemo's the worst I suppose - you're vomiting and feeling like absolute crap and nauseous," Johnny told Daily Mail Australia.
“I guess you've just got to take the good with the bad. The good days you enjoy a lot more because you don't know when they're going to be and how far apart they are. All in all, I've been fairly positive throughout the whole ordeal.”
By his side: Tahnee Sims’ unwavering support of her man
Throughout it all, Johnny’s girlfriend Tahnee Sims, who he met at a dance studio in 2015, has been a pillar of support.
"Without her I may not be here," he told Now To Love in October 2020, adding that it was her insistence that he get checked up when he was suffering a migraine.
"She was the one who made me get in the car [to go to hospital] when it [the headaches] first happened. And she's encouraging me to do things. She keeps me active, getting me to go for runs and swims."
It was a sentiment he also shared two years prior when speaking to Daily Mail Australia about Tahnee at the Avant Garde Brain Cancer charity ball.
“She's been incredible. I can't fault her. She's been there for me every step of the way from literally the day I was diagnosed to now,” Johnny gushed.
“She's been absolutely amazing. She's been my rock so it's been really good.”
And while Tahnee has been there for Johnny’s tough times, the couple have also managed to share happy times together as well.
Speaking to Now To Love in November 2019, Johnny revealed the secret behind their unbreakable bond.
"We just have fun. We make each other laugh so much. You know that gut-wrenching laugh with tears coming from your eyes?" the Broken Glass singer gushed.
"We argue and fight just like every other couple, but we make up too. We kiss and makeup you know?"
And it seems the feeling is mutual, with Tahnee often publicly showing her support for her partner, regularly describing him as “the strongest person she knows.”
Getting the all-clear: a temporary reprieve
After battling the insidious disease for two years, Johnny celebrated a momentous occasion in 2019.
The actor was given the all-clear from doctors and took to Instagram to share a scan of his brain in 2017 side by side with a 2019 scan of the same thing.
Alongside the image, Johnny was jubilant as he announced he had been declared cancer-free.
"Exactly two years ago versus today, so glad to have beaten this horrible disease. Thank you for all the support!" Johnny penned in the caption.
Despite the assurance from doctors he was in the clear, Johnny candidly admitted during this time that although he felt “much better – both physically and mentally", he still got “anxious” going to check-ups.
"I always expect the worst. I don't know why. I just expect the worst and when they go, 'Oh, you're still fine mate', I go '[pauses]… thank you’," he told Now To Love in November 2019.
Explaining, he added: "It's hard not to because I don't want to get my hopes up and then they go, 'Oh we've seen this, you might have to do some more chemo.' It's probably not a bad thing. It just makes me quite anxious leading up to it. It's not fun."
A heartbreaking discovery: Johnny’s cancer returns
Almost exactly one year later, Johnny was dealt a devastating blow: the cancer was back.
The performer shared the devastating news with his followers on Instagram in November 2020 and vowed to win his battle against the disease.
“After an unexpected week of seizures and excruciating headaches 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,” he wrote alongside a photo of himself and girlfriend Tahnee.
“Though I will dig deep and beat this sh*t disease again 👊🏽💜 #f*ckcancer”
And as Johnny gears up for his most candid interview yet on Channel Seven’s Spotlight, it appears his determination has not wavered.
“I’m gonna fight tooth and nail,” he vows in the trailer for the interview. “Every second of every day is that extra bit more important.”
WATCH BELOW: Johnny Ruffo opens up about cancer diagnosis