"Samuel, I will always love you." Red Symons' heart-wrenching tribute to his late son. 

After losing his eldest son, Samuel Symons, to an aggressive brain tumour earlier this month, Red Symons has paid a tearful tribute to his “beautiful son” on 3AW this morning.

“Samuel, I have always loved you, I will always love you, I shall always have you,” Symons shared with listeners – who he also thanked later in the program for their “overwhelming support”.

The radio personality and his wife Elly learnt of their son’s diagnosis when Samuel was just four.

“He was remarkable in his own way in that at four years old, you sort of come to terms with the fact that he’s not going to be here,” Symons said this morning.

“Twenty years later, he’s got a master’s degree. He was the most qualified person in the family.”

He went on to describe a conversation about death he had with Samuel just weeks before his passing.

“I asked him, ‘how do you feel about death?’,” Symons said.

“He said ‘I don’t worry about death because it’s been part of my life’.”

On 3AW earlier this month, the radio show on which Red Symons is a regular, Neil Mitchell read out a statement from the Symons family.

“It is with the deepest sadness Red announces the passing of his beautiful son, Samuel Symons,” it read.

“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.”

While Symons was private about his son’s experience with cancer for many years, he appeared on Australian Story in February 2010 to tell Samuel’s story.


Samuel was just four when he was first diagnosed with a brain tumour, and it was expected the surgeries to treat it would cause brain damage and paraplegia. He made a full recovery, but in Year 6, developed thyroid cancer. It was a diagnosis, however, plagued by a hospital error, that meant the tumour wasn’t treated for three months. Several surgeries failed to remove the cancer, and in Year 10, Samuel was diagnosed with another brain tumour.

He was 18 when he spoke on Australian Story.

“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 ABC show.

“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?”

His father said he wanted his son’s story told “properly,” and had waited until Samuel was 18 to publicly speak about his health.

red symons family
Red Symons' family. Image via ABC.

In a moving piece for The Monthly in 2016, Symons described the "trauma" of watching his son receive treatment for cancer.

"There are some moments of pure anguish that leave a retinal burn and are never forgotten," he wrote. Symons recalled the experience of having to stand behind the "danger lines" in his son's hospital room for three days while Samuel ingested radioactive iodine for his thyroid cancer.

"He sat solemnly in the chair next to his bed near the window," Symons wrote, "awaiting the sub-deadly dose that would make him off-limits as the battle ensued within him."

In May this year, Samuel Symons' advocacy work for people living with cancer was recognised by Health Minister Jill Hennessy, who presented him with an Outstanding Achievement by a Young Volunteer Award.

"Samuel is an incredibly inspiring young man," she said. "Whilst dealing with his own health challenges he is also focused on the needs of other people, and particularly other young people with cancer. It's an extraordinary contribution."

Samuel Symons lived years longer than doctors expected, and juggled his studies and work with advocacy in the healthcare system.