Port Fairy netballer Maddie Dalton refuses to let a growing injury toll dampen her enthusiasm for the sport.
The Seagulls midcourter broke her left ankle on Saturday, just one quarter into her comeback game from a serious hand injury.
Dalton, 21, said she was devastated her injury-interrupted career had taken another hit but would remain courtside to cheer her teammates on.
The university student was diagnosed with ovarian cancer before her ninth birthday and battled meningitis in 2012, with a lumbar puncture resulting in short-term paralysis.
She was paralysed from her waist down for a few hours and had no movement in her left leg for six weeks.
Dalton has also broken her ribs three times and had her 2013 season ended after an on-court accident with Seagulls coach Emma O’Keeffe, tearing ligaments in her thumb and breaking her right scaphoid bone.
She was excited to return to the court on the weekend before being dealt another blow.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was absolutely devastated,” Dalton said.
“I heard it crack and all the Port Fairy bench did and some of the spectators did.
“I initially thought I’d rolled it because it didn’t hurt that much. I thought I’d walk it out. My foot was the other way and I tried to walk it out and it went crack, crack.”
Dalton said she had time for the severity of the injury to sink in while she waited for an X-ray on Saturday night.
She saw a surgeon yesterday in Ballarat and is awaiting further consultation.
“It’s one of those things. It’s no one’s fault,” she said.
“The last four or five years I haven’t been able to escape injury. It’s been a nightmare.
“It was touch and go whether I’d play this year but I thought I’d give it a crack.
“I was worried about my hand. I haven’t regained full movement and probably never will.
“It’s (the ankle injury) probably a good thing. The hand will have a bit longer off getting smashed with the ball.”
Dalton will remain heavily involved at Port Fairy throughout her rehabilitation.
The Australian Catholic University student will travel back from Ballarat for games and is eager to attend as many training sessions as possible.
“I’d love to get back (and play), but I will wait and see what the prognosis is. But after a year off it was just fantastic to get back on court again on Saturday,” she said.
“I have been playing the game since I was six years old. I miss the social side and miss the game itself.
“It is totally different sitting on the sidelines. It’s hard being a spectator seeing things you’d do differently.
“I like to be involved. It is a fantastic club.”