By Josh Saunders
A woman plagued by facial deforming conditions is hoping surgery to give her a prosthetic eye will finally help her to find love before her ticking-timebomb tumours kill her.
Katelyn Fischer, 30, of Ansonia, Connecticut, USA, has survived an impressive 200 surgeries and procedures to date, battling masses on the right-side of her face that have ranged from the size of a dot to a large coin.
Doctors didn’t believe she would live after she was born with a ‘big puffy face’ caused by a combination of AVMs, lymphatic and vascular malformations.
Since then, she’s been operated on to seal-off deadly AVM that could rupture and kill her at any moment, as well as other debulking surgeries.
Due to the pressure put on her eye by the tumours, she’s partially sighted and suffers chronic pain, which she hopes can be relieved by a lifechanging operation to give her a prosthetic eye.
Katelyn is currently fundraising and hopes that it will help her finally find love after dates previously struggled to accept her differences and medical struggles.
Additionally, she hopes it will help her to gain full-time employment as a sous-chef and she will no longer be seen as an ‘insurance red-flag’.
Katelyn said: “The procedures and surgeries over the years have been to close off the lymphatic and vascular malformations, and other vessels around my brain.
“Any bleed on the brain could kill me, I live on the edge but try not to think about it.
“It feels like I’m living with a ticking timebomb every day and night, I try not to think about it too much, but every night I go to sleep I may not wake-up in the morning.
“I live with chronic pain every day, there’s always pressure around my eye socket and jaw, I suffer constant migraines and sickness due to the nausea of it all too.
“More recently what’s more concerning to me is my physical appearance, over the years there has been a lot of back and forth between doctors about removing my eye.
“It’s time for me to get a prosthetic eye, not only to gain more confidence, but to reduce my medical problems that will allow me to have a steady job and maybe a relationship in the future.
“I’ve been on dates and stuff in the past, but it didn’t last because they couldn’t understand what I have to go through and that I need to go into hospital all the time, it’s a constant thing.
“I have accepted who I am and know there is more to life than how I look, but others only see the deformity and that my face is different to theirs.
“I’m sure I will find love eventually, but for now I just consider myself very lucky, a lot of people wouldn’t survive 200 surgeries and procedures.
“I guess I’ve been gifted to look on the bright side of life, I can’t change who I am, I just do the best that I can.”
Katelyn first surgery was at five-months-old to debulk some of the lymphatic malformation mass that grew around her face and cheek.
Over the years, she would go onto tally more than 200 surgeries and procedures.
Katelyn said: “When I was born in the late 80s, technology wasn’t as good as today and so doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me at first.
“I had a big puffy face, I looked deformed and they were worried that I wouldn’t make it.
“At 18 months surgeons operated to remove a tumour from behind my eye, it was popping out of my eye-socket and at three-years-old, they closed off an AVM at the lower part of the back of my neck.
“I have needed a lot of surgeries and therapy growing up to help me to talk and walk, but was able to stay with my class and graduate thankfully.”
Growing up with a facial difference, Katelyn struggled with victimisation and regular name-calling.
But since learning to accept herself, she has strived to speak out and raise awareness of facial differences by engaging those who stare at her.
Katelyn said: “I was bullied a lot, I had to be kept isolated from other kids as well as wearing a helmet to ensure my skull was protected from harm.
“Then, like others with a facial difference, I still get looks every day on the street, when walking by people look at you weird, like they are thinking ‘What is wrong with you?’.
“Over time, I’ve learned to tell curious kids who stare that I have a ‘boo boo’ on my face and they are fine with it.”
Katelyn believes her medical situation has left her disadvantaged when applying for jobs.
She claims that employers have liked her job applications but upon meeting her for interviews see seen as a ‘risk’ due to the medical implications of her facial difference.
Katelyn said: “It’s been tough finding a job that will accept me and not view me as an insurance red flag, I believe I’m good on paper but when they see me it’s like their heads turn.
“Last year alone, I had over 150 interviews and I haven’t gotten anywhere.
“I have been employed in the past, but I had to keep on taking medical leave, so it affected my work and way of living significantly.
“After a certain amount of time, employers say they can’t keep me on and that’s pretty much what has been happening.”
Katelyn is currently fundraising to replace her right eye with a prosthetic, doctors believe this will drastically reduce the chronic pain she battles with.
She said: “I do want to remove my eye and have a prosthetic, for several reasons but mainly in the hope it relieves some of the pressure and pain I suffer on a daily basis.
“I am trying to raise money to help pay for the surgery, as well as other my medical bills and credit cards that I have had to max-out to pay on medical expenses.
“My life has been very difficult over the years, but I have always kept on pushing to inspire others. I’m very grateful to anyone who can help me.”
To donate to her cause visit: www.gofundme.com/hexcws6s