Chasing A Dream
The following is a guest blog by Bachelor of Health Sciences student Kyla Tozer.
The question I kept asking myself - how do you repay someone for saving your life? - slowly began to have an answer. To my surprise, the answer wasn’t what I thought it would be. I figured that somewhere along my journey I would hear a story, or a doctor would tell me “this is how you can repay us,” but that moment never came. It was such a hard question because the answer was not a tangible thing. I couldn’t put a price on repayment because there is no amount of money in the world that can add up to someone’s life. I finally realized that I needed to change my question - how can help the team that saved my life, continue to save other people? - and this has such an amazing answer.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumour. At the time, the life that I was living was no life at all. I had severe headache pain, worsening vision, hand tremors – things no one should be subjected to. When I received the diagnosis, I thought I would be scared, but ironically, it was the moment when I felt the most at ease. I had such faith and confidence in the neurosurgery team that my worries didn’t seem to surface. I know I am one of the lucky ones; I went into surgery with little to no life ahead of me, and now, because of them, I am in a place where I can grow as a mother, daughter, sister, student, and best of all - individual.
On May 7th, 2017, the Neuro Race Weekend happened here in Kingston Ontario. This was my way of saying “thank you” for saving my life. When I think back to this day, my emotions overflow. We all arrived at the event at 5am (don’t worry future runners, this isn’t the start time) to begin the preparation. I looked around at the tired faces of those who got out of bed on a rainy Sunday morning to help me set up. We began to load up the trucks and set up the course, I remember laughing and thinking to myself, “I hope people are happy and have fun today”. As I got back to the Norman Rodgers Airport and saw the runners warming up; doctors, nurses, families, and kids were all smiling as they prepared to accomplish something they had been training for for weeks on end. It hit me, I did it - I answered my question. “How do you repay someone for saving your life?” You help them save other people.
Throughout the day, I watched all ages of runners cross the finish line; 500 runners ranging from grade 2/3 at Centennial Public to 90+-year olds just wanting to say thank you. There was a special vibe that day that I can’t explain, it was that moment when people could come together and it didn’t matter if you had a tumour, aneurism, concussion, stroke, spinal surgery, epilepsy, hemorrhage, depression/anxiety, or you just wanted to support someone. Today was the day that were all there to support each other. I have always explained the path to recovery as a bridge, and the neurosurgery team builds us a bridge to get over an ocean of problems. But, it takes the first person walking the bridge to help the next person cross without fear.
The day wrapped up flawlessly, with the military search and rescue helicopter landing to show their support everyone walked away feeling like they accomplished their goal. There is a special thing about Kingston - we are a close community and when we all come together, amazing things can happen. On June 1st, Chase a Dream - Neuro Race Weekend donated $26,533.12 to the neurosurgery department at KHSC. With 63 local sponsors, 500 runners, and a strong community, we made this happen.
There are times in your life when you get to a cross road and one path seems easy, and the other seems terrifying. More often than not, that terrifying path is the one that leads to the greatest discoveries. After the launch of the 2017 Neuro Race Weekend I decided to change my path. I never excelled in high school and the idea of attending Queen’s University was nothing more than a dream in my wildest imagination. But after the surgery and “recovery”, I discovered something that many of us brain injury survivors discover. I was the new me. This new life I have been granted had a brighter future, and being accepted into Queen’s University in Health Sciences has been an accomplishment I would not have been able to gain if it wasn’t for this new life.
May 6th, 2018, we will host the second annual Neuro Race Weekend. We need the support and strength of Queen’s University to come together and support not only the team that saved my life, but the lives of loved ones all around us.
When people think of the Neuro Race Weekend, I want people to think one thing. It’s never too late to say thank you. And most importantly, we are and always will be…
To register for the event, go to:
To donate to one of our runners, Joseph, go to:
To learn more about us, visit our Facebook page: @neurohalf