A year ago Jenna Deighan removed the aircast from her broken ankle, taped up and played in the high school provincial basketball final.
The Grade 12 Colonel Gray Colonel will get the chance tonight to compete in the championship healthy.
“I played through the pain,” she recalled Tuesday. “I have a real high tolerance for pain. I’ve been used to putting up with pain since I was eight years old.”
Deighan was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when she was eight and it is now in 98 per cent of her body.
“They actually think that I’ve had arthritis for a while before it was diagnosed, but I was active and just thought it was normal,” Deighan explained. “It hurt. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with shooting pains in my body.”
The pain could be managed after numerous visits to hospitals and trying a string of medications. She is thankful for a supportive family and friends who helped her get through learning about the disorder.
The message at the time of her diagnosis was clear: remain active. Deighan has done that in spades, playing soccer and running cross-country in the fall, playing hoops through the winter and track in the spring.
“It’s a good balance,” Deighan said. “I think it’s good that I stay active throughout the whole year.”
Coming from an active family, she doesn’t even want to think about what life would have been like without sports.
“I think I would have been lazy and I don’t think I would have been as motivated in school,” she said. “With basketball, and other sports, I knew I had to get my homework done so that I could go to practice.”
It hurt. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with shooting pains in my body. - Jenna Deighan
The practice her and her teammates have invested this year has them in tonight’s Domino’s Prince Edward Island School Athletic Association senior AAA girls’ basketball final against the Three Oaks Axewomen.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Deighan said. “I feel really lucky that we have a good team this year, that we bonded together and managed to pulled it off and get to the finals even though we had a number of injuries.”
She is one of four Grade 12s on the Colonels while the Axewomen have six.
“It’s going to be sad when it’s over,” Deighan said, but added: “I am excited for (the final).”
The 17-year-old Charlottetown resident is hoping to continue playing basketball next year at college. She plans on studying sciences with a goal of becoming a rheumatologist.
“I feel like since I have arthritis, I’ll be able to help other kids who have arthritis,” she said. “I think I’ll be more sympathetic to what they’re going through.”
Schedule for the Domino’s P.E.I. School Athletic Association senior AAA basketball championship at UPEI:
Girls’ bronze medal
2 p.m. – Westisle vs. Charlottetown Rural One
Boys’ bronze medal
4 p.m. – Bluefield vs. Three Oaks One
Girls’ gold medal
6 p.m. – Colonel Gray One vs. Three Oaks One
Boys’ gold medal
8 p.m. – Colonel Gray One vs. Charlottetown Rural One