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Johnny Ruffo Shares Chilling Story Of How He Nearly Died In His Sleep

"The surgeon said if I hadn't gone to the hospital that night I would have died in my sleep..."

04/10/2017 8:11 PM AEDT | Updated 04/10/2017 8:52 PM AEDT
Twitter/BrainCancerAU
The former 'X Factor' contestant spoke to 'The Project's Carrie Bickmore.

Former 'Home and Away' star and 'X Factor' contestant Johnny Ruffo has opened up about his battle to beat brain cancer almost two months after he was diagnosed with the disease.

Speaking to 'The Project' on Wednesday night, Ruffo told host Carrie Bickmore just how close he came to succumbing to a seven-centimetre brain tumour that had grown over his right frontal lobe in his brain.

"The surgeon said if I hadn't gone to the hospital that night I would have died in my sleep that night. It is just sheer luck that I went in when I did and everything happened the way it did otherwise I wouldn't be here," he said.

The 29-year-old actor and musician said that, while he had experienced headaches frequently prior to that moment, he attributed them to his lifestyle rather than an actual issue.

"Anything that may have been a symptom, I just put down to normal life. Headaches -- I played sports and copped a million and one knocks in the head," he said,

"You never thought -- it may have attributed to it or not. You wake up with a bit of a hangover and you think, 'it is a headache from having a drink,' but this particular time I hadn't gone out at all and I just had a really bad headache. It grew from that.

"My sentences were not making any sense. My words were jumbled up. It became alarming to [my girlfriend]. She said maybe we should go to the emergency department."

In a post to Instagram in August, Ruffo said the diagnosis came as a "bit of a shock" but that he was preparing for a "bit of a battle" to try and fight off the disease. He was admitted to hospital on August 6 suffering from a migraine, which was then determined to be a brain tumour, and then underwent emergency surgery to remove it.

"I went in on Sunday night. The surgery was Monday. They started at 2pm and I got out at about 10:00pm," he told Bickmore on Wednesday.

"It took about eight hours to remove the tumour. It was seven centimetres so it was really quite large in my right frontal lobe. You can see the scar.

"They knew it was a tumour. They could only remove 95 percent of it due to where it was positioned, close to the nerve endings, I believe. So the remaining 5 percent they decided radio therapy and chemo therapy was the best option for it."

The popular Australian entertainer also explained how the cancerous tumour may have been growing for up to a decade and contributed to thoughts he believed to have been signs of depression.

"The surgeon said it could have been potentially growing from two years to 10 years. Initially I thought maybe I was a bit depressed so I'd even gone to the doctor. The doctor said all the symptoms seem like it is depression," he said.

"After having found the tumour, the neurosurgeon said it was not depression at all, it was because there was so much pressure being put on your brain it was causing all these different symptoms."

And with the prognosis of a possible six-month battle ahead of him involving radiotherapy and chemotherapy, he's still managed to stay positive with a new outlook on life -- even being named the national ambassador for the Walk For Brain Cancer.

"Looking back I wasted a lot of time just doing things that at the time was great, I had a lot of fun and what not, but now I feel like I really want to focus on my work and career and things that make me happy," he said.

"Whether it is music or acting and just entertaining. You have an epiphany about life almost. You appreciate it a bit more.

"It could have quite easily been over for me that night. It is almost like having a second chance and you appreciate things a lot more and you don't take things for granted as much."

Ruffo first rose to stardom after placing third on 'The X Factor' in 2011, he then went on to win the 12th season of 'Dancing with the Stars' in 2012. Ruffo also starred as Chris Harrington on 'Home and Away' from 2013-2016.

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