Red Symons’ eldest son Samuel has died aged 27 after losing his lifelong battle with cancer.
The family released a statement on 3AW Wednesday morning, which said: ‘It is with the deepest sadness Red announces the passing of his beautiful son Samuel Symons.
‘Samuel passed peacefully overnight surrounded by his family. We ask that you please respect the privacy of Red and his family at this very sad and difficult time.’
Samuel had been a patient of Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre since he was aged four, when he was first diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Throughout his life, he also had secondary cancers diagnosed, including thyroid cancer at age 11.
In late May, he was awarded the Outstanding Achievement by a Young Volunteer Award at the Victorian Minister for Health Volunteer Awards for his life-long advocacy work for people living with cancer.
At the time, he was battling an aggressive brain tumour for a second time.
Samuel had been instrumental in establishing a home-away-from home for patients aged 15-to-24 battling cancer.
‘The important thing I think overall with any treatment is still being able to be you,’ Samuel told Ten News at the time.
‘I am proud of what I’ve been able to do here because more than anything I went through the system where this stuff didn’t exist.’
Samuel at the time had also outlined his plans for the future.
‘I’ve given up on world domination, I think world peace is probably much easier, we’ll find out,’ he said.
He had been a volunteer at the Centre for six years, where he also helped create awareness and education programs for healthcare professionals.
‘His enthusiasm, determination and resilience has affected real change in the lives young people living with cancer from across Victoria and Australia,’ a statement from the Centre had said.
In 2010, the family were the subject of an Australian Story episode, when Samuel was then 18.
‘Even at this stage in Year 12 I still have thyroid cancer and I still have a brain tumour in my head which is a little bit off-putting,’ Samuel told the program at the time.
‘I used to think what it would have been like if I didn’t have cancer but what’s the point of thinking about the past when you can just think of now?’
In the program, Red told how a biopsy had revealed Samuel had suffered a brain haemorrhage, after he became unresponsive at preschool.
Red would later write of the trauma of seeing his son being stretchered off to hospital.
‘I still carry the trauma of my four-year-old child being stretchered away to have the top of his skull popped off like a soft-boiled egg while the surgeon took the spoon to his memory of a simple, happy life,’ Red wrote in a piece for The Monthly in February 2016.
In June, Red had told the Herald Sun of the progress of his son’s recent cancer treatment.
‘The result has been good,’ he had told the publication.
‘However the simple truth is, and anyone who has cancer knows this, it never really goes away.’
Neil Mitchell, 3AW radio host who is joined by Red for a chat every fortnight, offered his condolences to the Symons’ family.
‘In his short time on this program, Red has become very much loved, and he has been very much loved in this town for a long time,’ Mitchell said.
‘He is a delightful, friendly, engaging man, and I feel for his family going through this.’
Red’s appearance on Mitchell’s program came after his ABC Melbourne breakfast radio show was axed in November last year after 15 years on air.