“It was like someone ripped off my stomach” says Elly Symons when she recounts how she felt when 14 years ago her oldest son Samuel was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.
He was 4 then, and to this day, cancer still lives with him. His medical history includes, 4 brain tumours, three of them benign, additionally four more thyroid tumours, nine operations – the last one just a week ago- and numerous chemo sessions.
Tusedat at 8.00 o’ clock on ABC1, the program An Australian Story presented Samuel’s life journey.
For 14 years the Symons family managed to keep Samuel’s battle away from the media limelight. It was not an easy task. Red Symons after all, for 19 years, was one of the leading comedians and presenter in the Australian television hit Hey Hey It’s Saturday.
Elly Symons speaks to Neos Kosmos about her and Red’s decision to open up.
“This is not my story, or Red’s story. This is Samuel’s story. He is the one who battles cancer.” says Elly.
“Recently Samuel turned 18 and after a great deal of discussion he told us that he was happy to share his story” she adds.
Elly describes her son’s journey as a scientifically “an extraordinary story.”
Samuel has never had any remissions he as his mother says, “is in a constant battle.”
In the end there is also a story of “determination and hope”.
It was difficult to keep the media at bay particularly on the first years.
“When Red was in Hey Hey, a number of women’s magazines wanted to do the story. But Channel 9 guarded Red’s privacy diligently and supported us all the way through.”.
One of the reason they kept their son’s illness secret was “to give Samuel a normal life. We felt that media exposure wouldn’t help us to bring him up within a normal family environment.”
Elly harks back to when the doctors told them that our four years old Samuel had a brain tumour. “These were awful, dark times.” She had to be strong.
“We celebrate his life every day and we go on living with our three sons a happy family life like any other Australian family. We were determined not to let cancer take over our lives” says Elly Symons.