Chasing her Dream: Kyla’s Story

Imagine hearing the words: You have a brain tumour. What would your reaction be? Fear? Shock? Anxiety?

Kyla Tozer felt relief.

“Finally,” she recalled, “someone knew what was wrong.”

Since she was 16, Kyla suffered from serious headaches. She avoided going out with her friends, and struggled to concentrate under the fluorescent lights at school. Teachers noticed she had trouble remembering things. Over time, her peripheral vision gradually got worse.

“I said to my family doctor ‘you need to send me for an MRI,’” Kyla recalls.  “He replied ‘what, do you think you have a brain tumour?’”

IMG_0068Kyla’s intuition was right. An MRI revealed a tumour the size of a softball crushing the front left hemisphere of her brain.

Thankfully because of the access to highly specialized care available right here in Kingston, Kyla was scheduled for surgery with KGH Neurosurgeon Dr. Ronald Pokrupa the next week.

Two days after her surgery, Kyla was amazed she could see clearly again – and the relentless pain that she’d lived with for so many years, was gone.

Her life had changed.

Many studies have discovered links between brain injuries and addiction. For some, this means a lifestyle of drinking and drugs. Fortunately for Kyla, a family member encouraged her to start running after her surgery – an activity that can be very beneficial to an individual’s mental health, and also happens to be very addictive.

“Once I started running, my life just took a complete turn in agood direction,” said Kyla. But she still struggled to find a meaningful way to say ‘thank you’ to the care team that saved her life.

“I was thinking ‘what do I do? He saved my life’,” explained Kyla. “So we went and got a cheese basket as a thank you gift, but I remember looking at my mom and saying ‘I don’t think this is enough.’”

That’s when she and her mother came up with the idea to raise funds for neurosurgery at KGH while making more people aware of through the May 7th Chase a Dream – IMG_0021Neuro Half marathon and 5k event.

“Our healthcare system is beyond fantastic,” she says, but everyone recovers in a different way from a brain injury like hers. Through this community event, she is not only able to raise funds in support of the program, but is raising awareness about living a good life after a major brain injury. One foot in front of the other.

Kyla’s drive inspires her supporters, and will have an incredible impact on many people in the future who will also benefit from the specialized care of Dr. Pokrupa and the neurosurgery team.