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Mark Ruffalo reflects on how he dealt with a brain tumor diagnosis years ago

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Mark Ruffalo has quite the tale about what happened before he first became a father.

During a recent conversation on Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett’s “Smartless” podcast, Ruffalo shared that more than 20 years ago, when his wife Sunrise Coigney was close to giving birth to their son Keen, he had a dream that he had a brain tumor and it frighteningly proved true.

According to the elder Ruffalo, he had a bout a week left shooting “The Last Castle” with James Gandolfini and Robert Redford when he awoke from “this crazy dream, you know, it wasn’t like any other dream I ever had.”

“It was just like, ‘You have a brain tumor.’ It wasn’t even a voice,” Ruffalo recalled. “It was just pure knowledge: ‘You have a brain tumor, and you have to deal with it immediately.’”

Despite having no past symptoms other than an ear infection, the actor said he felt such “a sense of doom” that he decided to go to see a doctor anyway, just in case.

The doctor sent him for a scan, he said.

“The nurse calls the doctor out, and I could hear them talking in the other room, and she just comes in, and she’s a zombie,” Ruffalo said. “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.’”

Because his wife was about to give birth, Ruffalo said he decided to wait to tell her.

“She had the birth plan, she did the yoga, she had the doula, we had a hot tub ordered,” he said. “This is like her wedding, you know, man? This is like her christening, her quinceañera, and I was just like, ‘I can’t.’”

The tumor, fortunately, turned out to be benign. Tthe “Avengers” star eventually told his wife a week after she gave birth to their son, as he prepared to go to the neurologist to work on a treatment plan.

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

The surgery to remove the mass carried 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, Ruffalo said on the podcast.

He woke up completely deaf in one ear, which is still the case for him today, Ruffalo said. His initial facial paralysis on his left side resolved within a year of his surgery.

Ruffalo said he recalled thinking at the time, “Take my hearing, but let me keep the face and just let me be the father to these kids.”

He and Coigney later welcomed daughters Bella, now 18 and Odette, 16.

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