Kyra Poole

4 min read

Singer and HR consultant Kyra Poole found out she had two low-grade subependymomas and a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid in December 2023. She had made repeated visits to her GP over many months beforehand complaining of headaches, sickness, vertigo and impaired balance, symptoms she had attributed largely to the menopause. The 50-year-old, from Blofield Heath, Norfolk, underwent surgery in which her tumours were removed but the muscles in the back of her neck were cut. She has gradually rebuilt these with the help of physiotherapy and, although still suffering from fatigue, she considers herself lucky to have a second chance at life.

Kyra tells her story …

I can’t remember exactly when my symptoms started but it was sometime early last year. I’m known for being a bubbly person and have always had lots of energy but all of a sudden things changed.

“I thought I must have been menopausal or at least perimenopausal and I started visiting my GP regularly.”

I was suffering from ocular migraines where I would develop rings of light around both of my eyes followed by severe headaches. The worst of these struck in August whilst my husband, Adrian, and I were on holiday in Canada.

“We were out for the day and had to return to our hotel room because I couldn’t function at all.”

I was also getting vertigo really badly. I’d wake up in the morning with the room spinning and have to be sick. Not only that but my balance was getting progressively worse. I sing in a five-piece band called Addictive Mix and had to do a gig without shoes on because it was so bad. I made a joke of it at the time but it was terrifying. I stopped wearing heels altogether and then I noticed my cognitive functions were also affected.

“Some days I couldn’t perform well at work because I just couldn’t get my head around the tasks at hand.”

I went back and forth to the doctor and had various tests, bloods which came back normal and a balance test. However, a week later I suffered a vertigo attack at work and my colleague had to call Adrian to come and get me.

“It was after falling to the floor whilst on the phone to my mum that I called the doctor and asked to have a brain scan.”

That MRI took place on 21st December and the following day, as I was getting ready to go on stage at Dunston Hall Hotel, in Norwich, with 250 people in the audience, I got a call from my GP. I froze thinking news that soon wasn’t going to be good and so Adrian talked to her. He was told I needed to go to hospital and checked that I was OK to finish our gig first. Having been told I could, at 2am we went to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

“After that, everything was an absolute roller-coaster.”

The first consultant I saw told me I had a mass on my brain but put me at ease by saying he thought it could easily be removed and I would be home in time for Christmas. Then, whilst I was waiting for another MRI scan, I was informed I had two brain tumours and was being transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, to be operated on. It was impossible to process and I struggled to take it all in.

“I was told I had an egg-size build-up of fluid at the bottom of my brain, resting on my spine, which could collapse into my back at any time causing brain damage or paralysis.”

This is what concerned the doctors most and is the reason I was transferred so quickly. I told Adrian to go and get my mum because I didn’t know if I would see her again and they followed behind me in the ambulance. I was so nervous that I was talking a lot, and rather frantically, to the paramedic who accompanied me. I asked her everything I could think of including how long the surgeons had trained for and how much they earned. That poor girl.

Within 10 minutes of my arrival at Addenbrooke’s, I was joined by a consultant and my surgeon, David Clark. I couldn’t believe how quickly everything was happening. David explained there was a lot of risk associated with my surgery because of the location of my tumours and the fluid build-up at the back of my brain. He also warned that he might touch my vocal chords, which would lead to blurred speech.

“He knew I was a singer and I appreciated the compassion and concern he showed for the affect the surgery could have on my life.”

Adrian and my mum spent much of my five-hour surgery praying in the hospital chapel. It was a terrifying ordeal. We all cried as I got taken into theatre but I’d come straight from being on stage and still had false eyelashes on, which the anaesthetist joked about to put me at ease.

“I had to lay face down with my arms out in front of me throughout the surgery.”

I was warned I’d struggle with my arms afterwards as a result and I did, but the important thing is it was successful and every visible trace of my tumours were removed, as well as the more worrying fluid build-up. Adrian and Mum burst into tears when I gave them the thumbs up after coming to.

“I spent Christmas in hospital but the staff delivered presents, which was so thoughtful of them, and Mum and Adrian visited too.”

When the doctor came to try and get me up, I found I couldn’t lift my neck because the muscles in the back of it had been cut and needed time to heal, but I kept pushing myself and eventually managed it. I was told if I could have a shower and walk up a flight of stairs, they would let me go home so, after four days, that’s what happened.

I didn’t do much at home initially, but it was great to be back in my own bed. Processing everything was tough, especially as I had to wait more than six weeks for my review meeting to be approved for physiotherapy. I also had to wait for the results of my biopsy, not knowing whether or not I had cancer. The wait was torturous, but I tried to keep a positive mindset and, fortunately, my tumours turned out to be low-grade subependymomas.

“I know I’m in a good position compared to most and I do feel very lucky.”

My consultant told me he was confident I’d get back to being who I’m meant to be but that it would take time. All of my symptoms have gone, which is great, and I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life which makes me want to do all I can to help others.

“I want to empower women with symptoms like mine to seek help if they persist rather than assume they’re going through the menopause.”

I still suffer from fatigue but I can be active for a few hours at a time and I can still sing, which is remarkable and something I can use to fundraise for Brain Tumour Research. I’m performing a gig at the Brickmakers in Norwich on 13th April and the charity will benefit from the proceeds of that.

“I’m also going to be supporting Wear A Hat Day, along with some friends.”

I’ll be hosting a tea and cake day at home on 28th March whilst Richard Coe, the owner of the All Day Brewing Company, in Norwich, will be donating entry funds from 27th March to the charity and my friend Katie Hart will be holding a quiz night with a best hat competition at the Tyneside Club in Sheringham on 29th March. I imagine this is just the start of it as I plan to do much more for Brain Tumour Research in the future.

Kyra Poole

March 2024


Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer... yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease since records began in 2002.

Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.

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