“You can’t change what’s happening inside you with cancer. So what you need to do, is try and fix everything else around you.”

Samuel Symon’s inspiring quote featured in the beginning of a video in his memory, presented at the Victorian Minister for Health Volunteer Awards ceremony last week in Melbourne.

And this is the motto Samuel acted on. Having battled with cancer since he was four, he ensured all the knowledge he accumulated about the patient experience was put into use by helping others.


Over the years, Samuel served in various boards at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, including the Youth Cancer Advisory Board and the Consumer Advisory Board.

In recognition of his advocacy work in improving care for fellow young Victorians with cancer, he was honoured at the state’s Health Volunteer Awards last year receiving the Outstanding Achievement by a Young Volunteer Award.

Samuel with Victoria’s former Health Minister Jill Hennessy and mother Elly Symons at last year’s Minister for Health Volunteer Awards where he received the Outstanding Achievement by a Young Volunteer Award.

A few months later, at the age of 27, Samuel passed away.

But as the video tribute acknowledges, his legacy remains.

Samuel’s mother, Vice President of the Australians for Reunification of Parthenon Sculptures Elly Symons told Neos Kosmos about the special screening of the video at the awards at the Victorian Minister for Health Volunteer Awards last week:

“As it happened, that Friday was also his birthday and it was the first birthday we had without him. So it was obviously very emotional and very special, but also quite a lovely way to spend his birthday doing something that celebrated him publicly where he was acknowledged for all his work,” she said.

“We had about 25 friends and family who watched it and everyone was in teary eyes.”

Introducing the tribute was Health Minister Jenny Mikakos who gave a personal address, being a friend of the family and having met Samuel.

The brief video presentation features members of the boards at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and doctors talking about Samuel’s input to the Centre, sharing stories about his generosity, compassion and humour.

“There is no question he [Samuel] had a significant impact. And this place learned from him, this Centre learned from him and I learned from him[…] He carried the hopes of so many people,” Professor Ian Dunn, AO, Board Director at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is heard saying.

Elly Symons, who was also interviewed in the video, took the stage to thank attendees as well as those involved in the making and presentation of the video, especially given the fact that the day marked the first birthday after his passing.

“The video was actually very powerful and moving.

“The people interviewed said beautiful things about the contribution that he made,” she says, elaborating on how Samuel’s input has proved valuable in many levels.

“These boards were involved in policy making for the new cancer centre where everything was designed from scratch[…] The input they had from these advisory boards helped to develop basically cancer care for new patients […] what could be better in procedures, ideas and the environment particularly for young patients as their needs are very different.

“So that was his role, it was about making a difference for young people who are cancer patients”.