The Unbelievable Way Mark Ruffalo Discovered a Brain Tumor the ‘Size of a Golf Ball’

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Mark Ruffalo recently revealed the miraculous, almost unbelievable way he discovered he had a brain tumor back in 2001—despite having no apparent symptoms.

On Monday’s episode of the SmartLess podcast (hosted by actors Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett), the Poor Things star shared details about his diagnosis. The news caught him off guard, he said, since he didn’t have any typical signs of a brain tumor (which can include headaches, vision problems, and nausea, according to the Mayo Clinic).

“It’s funny, I had an ear infection that night,” Ruffalo recalled. But what really convinced him to go to the hospital was an ominous dream. “I woke up probably around 3 a.m., 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 tumor,’” he explained. “It wasn’t even a voice. It was just pure knowledge, ‘You have a brain tumor, and you have to deal with it immediately.’”

Trusting his instincts, Ruffalo got a CAT scan, mostly for peace of mind. But it turned out that his intuition was onto something: A nurse, he said, told him, “You have a mass behind your left ear the size of a golf ball, and we don’t know what it is. We can’t tell until it’s biopsied.”

Luckily, the tumor turned out to be benign (meaning, noncancerous). But he still underwent a challenging surgery to remove the lump that left him “completely deaf” in one ear. “[Doctors] said to me, I had a 20% chance of nicking my nerve on the left side of my face, killing it, and a 70% chance of losing my hearing,” he told the SmartLess hosts.

To this day, Ruffalo can’t hear out of his left ear. But ultimately, he said, that’s a small price to pay. “Take my hearing,” he recalled thinking at the time of his surgery. “But let me keep the face, and just let me be the father of these kids.”


Originally Appeared on SELF