The Current

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. Today we bring you 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. 

While they are rare, they can be devastating. Even when they are benign.

For tumours which are not cancerous, some experts say there has been paradigm shift in how they are treated.

For years the philosophy was to remove the tumour entirely. Something that is still done today. But that can pose big risks, potentially leaving patients blind or with permanent brain damage.  Increasingly, surgeons are using minimally invasive methods to reduce these benign tumours rather than destroy them. 

New Yorker Demetri Kofinas, was diagnosed with Craniopharyngioma in 2009, at the age of 28.

"I went in for an MRI and when it was over and I was ready to leave the tech says, 'yeah it's definitely Craniopharyngioma.' And I was like, Huh?!"- Demetri Kofinas on how he first found out he had a brain tumour

The Current's Leif Zapf-Gilje shares his journey through dementia and regaining his memory back in the documentary, Mind and Matter. 

Dr. Sheila Singh from McMaster University is both a researcher and a surgeon, who specializes in brain tumours. She works with patients who have Craniopharyngioma, the kind of tumour Demetri suffered from.

According to Dr. Singh, Craniopharyngioma tends to be a small percentage of brain tumours, in adults about one per cent. She joined us to explain more about brain tumours and what happens when you do not operate to remove benign tumours.

This segment was  produced by Leif Zapf-Gilje. The Current's documentary editor is Joan Webber.