Brain Tumor Awareness Month – Mark Ruffalo’s Story

Mark Ruffalo is not just one of Hollywood’s most talented actors; he is also a humanitarian, social activist, and survivor.  During one of the happiest times of his life in 2001, Mark Ruffalo was diagnosed with a brain tumor – and kept the news to himself for weeks as his wife was close to delivering their first child.

Mark had a dream one night that he had a brain tumor.  He said that the dream was so vivid he felt like he had to see a doctor immediately.  Upon seeing the doctor and getting some tests run, he was officially diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma – about the size of a walnut – and the surgery which removed the begin tumor left him with some worrisome side effects.  Those side effects led to Mark almost ‘disappearing’ from Hollywood at the peak of his career, after one of the most amazing roles he’d experienced, and it wasn’t until much later that everyone found out why.

The surgery to remove Mark’s tumor left him with partial facial paralysis for almost a year after the procedure.  During this time Mark thought his career was over and the rumor mill in Hollywood didn’t help matters.  Stories ran that said Mark was ailed by everything from drugs to AIDS – all while he was trying to recover from a tumor and live life as a new father, while adjusting to what could have been permanent paralysis in his face.  After months of waiting the glimmer of hope came in the form of small muscle movement by his eye.  Mark says he and his wife jumped for joy – the entire situation was very emotionally charged, and within months his facial movement was back!

Mark went back to acting soon after and his career has continued to soar since then, as has his passion for life.  The success and value of Mark’s life and career were not determined by his brain tumor.

The type of tumor Mark had, an acoustic neuroma, occurs in about 1 out of 100,000 people – occurring in about 8% of all tumors of the head.  It’s not a hereditary tumor and it usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 60.  Surgery is the most common form of treatment for the tumor although there are other options as well including ‘gamma knife’ radio surgery and in some cases the tumor can be left alone.

Acoustic neuromas are usually discovered after hearing difficulties/loss, vertigo, and a ringing in the ears.  There are usually many other causes for said symptoms.

If you want to find out more about brain tumors, how to help, and where to donate please visit The Brain Tumor Charity.

Written by Ashley

Writer, coffee drinker, mother.