Mark Ruffalo had a dream that he had a brain tumor and he was right

Mark Ruffalo just nabbed his fourth Oscar nomination this week, for supporting actor in Poor Things. All four of his noms have been for supporting roles, which puts him in an exclusive club of legends tied for the most number of nominations in that category. It feels fitting that he’s always honored for “supporting” work, since he seems like a real team player, a costar who genuinely cares for his fellow performers. A mensch, if you will. Clearly he takes his work seriously, but that doesn’t mean he’s a dick about it to anyone during his process. Maybe it’s me, but I just get kind, good-intention vibes from him. So when he says that he had a dream telling him he had a brain tumor, and it turned out that he did have one, I believe it that his unconscious psyche was looking out for him. Ruffalo just visited the SmartLess podcast and described the benign vestibular schwannoma he had in 2001 and its residual effects:

“I had a brain tumor after the success of You Can Count on Me,” he said, noting that he discovered the tumor after having a dream about it. “It wasn’t like any other dream I’d ever had. It was just like, ‘You have a brain tumor.’ It wasn’t even a voice. It was just pure knowledge, ‘You have a brain tumor, and you have to deal with it immediately.’”

Ruffalo admitted that the dream was “so intense” that he went to the doctor for a CAT scan after feeling a “sense of doom.” At the time, the only symptom he had was an ear infection.

“The nurse calls the doctor up, I could hear them talking in the other room. She comes in, she’s kinda like a zombie and she says, ‘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,’” he said.

The Avengers star said the tumor was benign but he needed surgery to remove the mass. Ruffalo said that he ultimately decided to keep the diagnosis a secret from his wife Sunrise Coigney, who was pregnant and days away from giving birth to their first child, son Keen, now 22.

Ruffalo told Coigney of his health a week after their son was born and the night before his appointment to “meet the neurologist” and figure out a treatment plan.

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

Ruffalo had the benign tumor surgically removed. The star was told that during the procedure, there was a 20% chance of “killing” the nerve on the left side of his face and a 70% chance of losing the hearing in his left ear.

‘[I am] completely deaf in one ear, and when I woke up, the left side of my face was totally paralyzed,” he recalled of the surgery’s aftermath. “I couldn’t even close my eye. I was talking out the side of my mouth.”

The paralysis eventually went away a year later, however, the actor still deals with hearing loss today.

“Take my hearing, but let me keep the face and just let me be the father to these kids,” he recalled thinking at the time. Ruffalo and Coigney later welcomed two more children, daughters Bella Noche and Odette.

[From People]

His story is wild! I wish my dreams would give me such direct, emphatic messages. Maybe I’m just not as spiritually evolved as Mark, sigh. The timing of when it happened is also insane — right after his big break in You Can Count On Me and shortly before the birth of his first child. I found his phrasing very curious about this happening “after the success of” the movie. Is he suggesting that the stress of the moment was in part responsible for the tumor, or is that just for the timeframe? And I’m not yet sure how I feel about his not telling his wife until after their son was born. I understand his reasoning, he didn’t want it to weigh on her on top of imminent childbirth. But on the other hand, it was a pretty big deal and she’s his partner! My biggest follow up question, though, is about what Sunrise said to him in response: “I always knew you were gonna die young.” WHAT is that about?! I’m fascinated and need to know more. Is he accident prone? Is she basing it off a dream she had? It’s such a tease! And so what does he say to her these days, “Ha! I’m 56 and still alive, Sunny!” I mean if he passed now it would still be young, but you get the point.

Mark, we’re glad you’re still with us, and congrats again on the nomination. You and that mustache earned it.

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28 Responses to “Mark Ruffalo had a dream that he had a brain tumor and he was right”

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  1. Nanea says:

    See, that’s how a scheduled surgery goes.

    I totally get Mark not telling his wife about the tumor before the birth of their first child, because telling last few days can be a lot, mentally and for the body. And he and his docs hadn’t agreed on a treatment plan then.

    But I don’t get her reaction at all.

    Good they’re still together so many years later, and that Mark appears to be well, considering.

    • HelloDolly! says:

      So, I have a fear my husband will die young. I think about it probably every few months. I don’t go to therapy (but believe in it), and I would guess my fear stems from my father dying relatively early from ALS. It also could be, too, that I am anxiety prone, and my husband’s family has a range of health problems–diabetes and heart attacks. After having attended a funeral of my husband’s cousin who passed in his mid 50s due to a heart attack, I def became more worried.

    • rebebe says:

      I understand her reaction completely. It stems from anxiety and she was also postpartum. I have a fear of my husband dying young because his mother died young. She may have something like that in her life. It’s not a gut feeling, it’s fear.

  2. SarahCS says:

    I enjoyed his performance in Poor Things but it seemed a bit OTT so I’m surprised by the nomination. He seemed to be having fun with it though.

  3. KeKe Swan says:

    My reaction to her reaction? 😳

  4. Thrasher says:

    Extraordinary! My first thought: how did he convince his doctor to give him the scan? He’s lucky he wasn’t ignored.

    • Kirsten says:

      He maybe had a good relationship with his doctor, or maybe his symptoms were more concerning than he described/felt, but also rich people can just pay for these things. I know he’s not Jeff Bezos wealthy, but certainly he could afford $2k for a CT scan.

      There are clinics now that just do full-body scans for a few thousand dollars so you can make sure you have no issues that need attention.

      • Kitten says:

        Just finished typing my comment below and saw yours and yes, this 100%.Our country is so cruel to the working class.

    • tealily says:

      I thought the same thing. Like, I probably wouldn’t even have made an appointment, figuring I was being a hypochondriac and my doctor probably wouldn’t do anything anyway. Lord knows I’ve gone in with definite complaints and they still do nothing.

    • BrainFog says:

      He was born male, that’s how.

    • Jbawnes says:

      Weirdly enough, “sense of doom” is an actual symptom recognized by the medical profession.

      • sparrow says:

        Jbawnes That’s fascinating to me. I know several people go to their GPs, relaying that their pets are sniffing at specific areas of their bodies such as breasts, and get referrals for further investigation.

    • Mimi says:

      If he was a woman =” are u sure ur not just on your period? Lose weight”

  5. Minority Report says:

    He’s my forever crush. The bar is absolutely in hell, but he seems like one of the good ones.

  6. Kitten says:

    SUCH a crazy story! I’d like to think that if I were in his situation I would also be compelled to get a CAT scan but my insurance is definitely not as good as his, and I can def see me putting it off until it’s too late 🙁
    I’m so happy he’s ok and happy and healthy–love Mark Ruffalo.

  7. Tammy says:

    I believe he said that whoever was on set was on the board of the hospital. Something like that and that’s how he was able to get in. I was half listening while at work yesterday

  8. Cecil says:

    For everyone side-eyeing Sunrise’s reaction, let’s remember that she was a week post-partum when she received this news and talented artists dying young is a thing. I bet this was a back of the mind fear that she blurted out due to shock, sleeplessness, and haywire hormones.

  9. TRex says:

    Many indigenous cultures place a lot of importance on dreams – especially the ones Like Mark’s that stay with you for days after you have them repeat or pick up where the last one left off. I often feel dreams can be messages from your higher self.

    • Angela says:

      I’m a therapist being trained in Jungian analysis, and I use dreams in my work all the time. Clients bring in dreams and, in this modality, they are honored as being from Psyche and as a road map to wholeness.

  10. tealily says:

    It sounds like it derailed his career slightly at that time, so I think that’s all they mean by “after the success of…” He was probably looking to leverage that into some more roles, but instead had to spend some time dealing with his facial paralysis.

    • North of Boston says:

      That was my take as well, he was in a successful project, was likely feeling pretty optimistic and hoping to leverage that momentum. And then Bam!

  11. Coldbloodedjellydonut says:

    Well, mind blown. My husband has the same first name, same tumour, same side of head, same hearing loss after surgery, same timeframe for diagnosis. Tumour twins!!!

  12. sparrow says:

    It sounds like the famous story of a woman who was sitting at home one evening,I think reading, when she heard someone tell her something was wrong. And it began to say over days that she had a medical problem, to go to the doctor, to get a scan. This would happen regularly to the point she believed there was someone or something in her house. She felt it was a haunting. Well, she had a scan. And it was a tumour. Some doctors have said the voice she heard was part of the brain scrambling that can happen with tumours; some have said she overlaid her experience with a degree of retrospective story telling. Whatever, it’s always grabbed my attention.