Kathryn Fraser learned at a young age to live in the moment after she was diagnosed with a tumour on her face at the age of 18 and lost two close family members in the same year.
However, those challenges also taught the 21-year-old former Durham College student to live her life to the fullest.
“This experience definitely gave me a new appreciation for life and to really try and live in the moment” says Fraser, “and because life is short, and anything can happen.”
She first noticed the tumour developing at the age of 17 but ignored for almost a year.
By the time she saw a doctor she was told that if she didn’t remove it, it could turn cancerous.
She was able to have surgery to remove it at the age of 19, but had to deal with the tumour during her entire time at CTV Regina in Saskatchewan, while doing her internship for her Journalism – Mass Media program.
Fraser was told there was a risk of the surgery damaging her facial nerve and paralyzing half of her face.
Fraser’s surgery lasted for three hours, and took place a few days after she graduated from Durham College.
She says it was a challenging surgery and recovery. The surgeon told Fraser that the tumour was the size of a fist when he removed it from her face.
Fraser says she has healed to the best of her ability. However, she has been told there’s always the chance of it coming back in the future.
She still has some titanium clips in her face to make sure everything heals properly.
Fraser no longer has feeling in her right ear, which is numb and will be for the rest of her life. One of the surgery’s side effects is that her face also sometimes gets red when she eats certain foods.
“I’ve realized that through this experience, you know, you’re dealt with what you’re dealt with in life,” says Fraser. “And sometimes things happen for no reason at all. And you know, exactly, you can’t control them, but you choose how you can respond to them.”
After going through all of this, Fraser continues to pursue one of her passions: acting.
She has been in more than 15 shows across Durham Region, primarily performing with Oshawa Little Theatre.
Currently, she works as the theatre’s archival content creator and social media coordinator, helping connect and engage with community members during the pandemic.
She also hopes to get back on stage when the pandemic is over.
“When I look back on everything, I looked back on it with a grain of salt. They were difficult experiences, but they’ve shaped me into the more resilient person that I am today,” says Fraser.
Her mother, Larissa, and her father, Steven, supported Kathryn during her journey.
They didn’t want her to get depressed about all the things she was going through, and they understood that she would be upset afterwards.
Larissa says she and her husband didn’t want their daughter to dwell on the tumour because there are so many things to look forward to and learn from this journey.
Larissa has one piece of advice for her daughter.
“To enjoy living in the present. Think about the future, but don’t stress about it because the future has a way of working itself out sometimes,” she says.