It’s been an emotional year for Red Symons, who says he still cries regularly after losing his son Samuel to cancer last October.
In a candid interview for The Sydney Morning Herald’s publication Good Weekend, the Symons, 69, opened up about his son’s tragic death and how he’s coped in the aftermath.
“In the end, with his recent … let’s say the word, death … what I clung to was just the idea of telling him that I loved him,” Symons said. “That’s fundamentally what was there. He went out with grace and dignity. He was in a good place with good people and I don’t believe he went out with discomfort or fear.”
Symons also recalled the moment a doctor phoned him to tell him that Samuel’s cancer had returned and that the prognosis wasn’t good.
“A professor of surgery called me – and they’re good those guys, they know exactly how much to communicate, they don’t overdo it, they don’t underdo it. He’d seen the biopsy. He just said, ‘It’s bad.’ And that’s all he needed to say,” Symons recalled.
In October 2018, it was revealed that Samuel had passed away after his lifelong battle with cancer, aged 27. He was just four years old when he was first diagnosed with a brain tumour and would battle with recurring tumours and thyroid cancer throughout his life. When his aggressive brain tumour returned in 2017, he underwent further treatment, but to no avail.
At the time of his first diagnosis, Samuel’s bedroom shared a wall with a power substation. After learning about the potential dangers associated with living so close to the power facility, the family moved house immediately, and while Symons has previously conceded there are no studies to prove this could have caused Samuel’s cancer, they weren’t willing to take the risk staying there.
Not long after Samuel passed away, Red sat down with 3AW host Neil Mitchell to discuss the impact Samuel’s death had had on the family. He described his son as “remarkable in his own way” and that despite being told that Samuel wouldn’t make it past high school, he remained on earth for almost three decades.
“Twenty years later, he’s got a master’s degree,” Red said. “He’s the most qualified person in the family.”
The family had previously appeared on ABC’s Australian Story in February, 2010, where Samuel spoke openly about living with the deadly disease.
“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,” a the then-18-year-old Samuel said. “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?”