How I Broke my Finger

I was a happy, normal five year old girl. I loved to run, laugh, fight with my sister, and play with my friends. I could do everything other five year olds could do, but I was different.

It was a weekday, after school. I went to the playground with my playgroup, and we were playing on the blacktop when someone's mom stole my shoe, cue the fierce game of tag. I remember I was about to catch up, when suddenly, I tripped. It was the kind of fall that gives you a skinned knee and a few bruises, nothing to worry about. I scraped my knee up pretty bad, but other than that I thought I was fine. To this day, I still don't know how I didn't notice the horrible pain in my finger. My mom noticed it first, then she realized my finger was bent at a funny angle, and she started going out of her mind with worry, like all moms do. She took me in for X-Rays, and, long story short, I had shattered the bones in my little finger. I also had something smart people call an enchondroma. Now, I just call it "my tumor." It basically grows cartilage inside the bone, so I had more cartilage in my finger than bone, and that was what made it so weak, so that it shattered. The treatment plan: 4 weeks in a cast, surgery to remove the tumor, another 4 weeks in a cast, a splint for two weeks, and by that point I could hardly bend my finger, so about two months of physical therapy. Before this, I hadn't even imagined that I would ever have a tumor! I didn't even really know what tumor meant! On surgery day, I was scared out of my mind. I had to walk back into a scary white room with scary people in scary blue masks, lie down on a table, and have one of the scary people put a bad smelling mask over my nose, all the while I was staring at the tools on the table, mostly the scalpel. But I made it through the surgery and the rest of it alright, and thought I was done. I would have to wait six years before finding out how wrong I was, how wrong we all were.

I was 11, in the fifth grade. I had just moved halfway across the country, from St. Louis to San Francisco, and started at a bad school. I had to switch eight weeks into the school year to a different school. The only thing good about that time was it was softball season, and I loved softball. Little did I know that was all about to change. 

It happened at lunch-recess, me and my friends were playing four-square. Someone bounced the ball to me, and it caught my finger wrong, bending it back into what should have been a sprain. I didn't even cry as I walked up to the school nurse, but when she was turning my finger left, right, up, down, side to side, and diagonally, trying to get it in a comfortable position for a splint, she said I should probably get X-Rays. Before that sentence, my episode six years ago hadn't even crossed my mind, but the word X-Rays triggered a flood of memories, like a dam suddenly opening up. I went in for X-Rays, and, sure enough, it was back. The tumor. 

In a way, I'm almost glad it came back. I learned many important things in those long months, things I'll never forget. I learned to never give up, no matter how tough it gets. I also learned the value of friendship. I will always remember how my friends stuck by me through thick and thin, day after day, supporting me, checking on me in PE, where I had to sit on the bench and watch them play my favorite sport. Given the choice, I wouldn't change anything, because if I had never had that tumor, I never would've learned how loved I was by me peers, and I wouldn't have been the strong person I am today without those experiences.