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Mark Ruffalo opens up about why he waited to tell wife Sunrise Coigney he had a brain tumour

Mark Ruffalo opens up about why he waited to tell wife Sunrise Coigney he had a brain tumour

Mark Ruffalo has explained why he initially waited to tell his wife, Sunrise Coigney, that he had a brain tumour.

The 56-year-old actor spoke candidly about his health during an episode of Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes’ podcast, SmartLess, which aired on 22 January. During the conversation, Ruffalo recalled that “after the success of You Can Count on Me,” which came out in 2000, he discovered that he had the brain tumour. He then noted that during that discovery, his wife was expecting their first child, Keen, who is now 22 years old.

“Sunrise was, like, nine and a half months pregnant, and the baby was imminently coming,” Ruffalo recalled. He also described his hectic work schedule, at the time, before recalling the unconventional way that he first found out about the brain tumour.

“I had one of those 4am calls, and I woke up probably around 3am, and I just had this crazy dream. It wasn’t like any other dream I’d ever had. It was just like, ‘You have a brain tumour,’” he explained. “It wasn’t even a voice. It was just pure knowledge, ‘You have a brain tumour, and you have to deal with it immediately.’”

The 13 Going On 30 star specified that while he didn’t have symptoms of the brain tumour at the time, he said he still had “an ear infection that night” that was hurting. He then noted that because of his dream, he was encouraged to speak to the doctor on the set of one of his movies about his health.

“I said, ‘Listen, this is going to sound crazy, but I had this dream last night that I had a brain tumour,’” he said. “[The doctor] said: ‘That is crazy. But there’s no reason that you should have to worry about it. I’ll order you a CAT scan, and we’ll go after work today.’”

Ruffalo noted that while the doctor joked about him being “crazy” for wanting to get checked out after the dream, it was ultimately the thing that led to his diagnosis.

“[The doctor] comes in, and she kind of looks like a zombie,” he continued. “And she says, ‘You have a mass behind your left ear the size of a golf ball. We don’t know what it is, we can’t tell until it’s biopsied.’”

The actor acknowledged that after his doctor found the mass, he waited to tell his wife because she was still pregnant. “I didn’t tell Sunny cause she had the birth planned,” he said. “She did the yoga, she had the doula. We have the hot tub ordered.”

According to Ruffalo, it wasn’t until a week after his son was born that he went back to the neurologist to get the mass removed. He also shared that right before that procedure, he then shared his diagnosis with his wife.

“When I told Sunny about it, first she thought I was joking,” he explained. “And then she just burst into tears and said, ‘I always knew you were gonna die young!’”

The Poor Things star added that while his tumour was benign, he was still left “completely deaf in one ear,” after the surgery. In addition, he said that when he woke up from the procedure, the left side of his face was “totally paralysed” and he couldn’t even close one of his eyes. However, according to Ruffalo, he was aware of the risks of the surgery beforehand.

“[The doctors] said I had a 20 per cent of nicking my nerve on the left side of my face, and killing it,” he explained. “And then I have a 70 per cent chance of losing my hearing, which went.”

He then added that he wasn’t necessarily concerned about some of these side effects, since his main focus was being there for his family. “Take my hearing, but let me keep the face, and just let me be the father of these kids,” Ruffalo said.

Four years after welcoming Keen, Ruffalo and his wife welcomed their second child, a now-18-year-old daughter, Bella. In 2007, the couple welcomed another daughter, Odette, who is now 16.

This isn’t the first time that Ruffalo opened up about his health, specifically the dream about having a brain tumour. During an interview with W Magazine in 2011, he first revealed that he had the “crazy dream,” before he woke up and “just knew [he] had a brain tumour”. He also recounted his doctor’s reaction to the CAT scan, in which the mass was discovered.

“They were like ‘You have a mass behind your left ear and you will need to get it removed. We don’t know what it is exactly, but we think it’s operable,’” Ruffalo recalled. He then described how he took care of the tumour at the time, before acknowledging how the situation changed his perspective on everyday life.

“You just deal with it. You go on. I’m fine now, I only lost my hearing in one ear,” the Now You See Me star explained. “I see it as kind of a gift in a weird way. Your priorities become very clear. My relationship to acting became very clear.”