The Current

ENCORE: How a man with a brain tumour rebooted his memory

Demetri Kofinas had a benign brain tumour that was too tricky to remove, so he left it. But then it grew and threw him into dementia in his 20s. This is the story of one man's journey toward profound loss and the turnaround that brought everything back.
New Yorker Demetri Kofinas was 28 years old when he was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma in 2009. (Wendy Ploger)

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It is estimated that about 55,000 Canadians are living with brain tumours, and every day 27 people are added to that list. 

A diagnosis can be devastating — even when the tumour discovered is benign. Experts say there has been a paradigm shift in the approach to treatment and increasingly, surgeons are using minimally-invasive methods to reduce benign tumours rather than destroy them.

It was like pieces of my life were just dropping like rain droplets.- Demetri Kofinas 

New Yorker Demetri Kofinas was diagosed with craniopharyngioma in 2009. He was 28 at the time.

"I went in for an MRI and a tech there goes, 'Yep, it's definitely craniopharyngioma.' And I was like, 'Huh?'"

Demetri Kofinas shares his journey coping with his diagnosis and what his future might look like in the documentary, Mind and Matter.

"I had a fear about being lost in eternity, sort of, just falling into darkness," Kofinas says. "What was most terrifying was that I might lose everyone. I might lose myself, also."

Kofinas describes the moment when he regained his lost memories.

"I would just be sitting in my hospital bed and memories would come back … I describe it like rain. It was like pieces of my life were just dropping like rain droplets."

After surviving a poor diagnosis, Kofinas is grateful for what the experience has given him.

"I had such an amazing life as a result of the fact that I had to confront my mortality."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this post.

The documentary Mind and Matter was produced by Leif Zapf-Gilje's. The Current's documentary editor is Joan Webber.