The two titanium screws through Alex Bunton's leg are a reminder of the pain. The scars on her knees are reminders the nine operations. But her beaming told a different story on Wednesday night.
Bunton has been picked to play for the Australian Opals at the world championships in Spain next month, drawing a line under the injury nightmare which has plagued your young career.
The 24-year-old has been plagued by knee and leg problems since she was a teenager, but is now the first Canberra-born player in 32 years to be a part of an Opals squad at a major international tournament.
"And everything I've done as been worth it. Everything I've been through has been worth it. I can't even describe [the feeling]," a beaming Bunton said.
"In a way, I don't regret any decision I've made because look where I am. It has hit me now that it's all worth it and the patience has paid off."
Bunton's rise has come at the expense of Canberra Capitals recruit Kelsey Griffin, who has been battling to overcome a hamstring problem for the past month.
The Opals have called on five Rio Olympians to boost their chances of chasing gold, including Capitals recruit Leilani Mitchell, as well as adding former Canberra players Ezi Magbegor, Steph Talbot and Lauren Mansfield.
Bunton hasn't played a full competitive game in a year and almost quit basketball after her last operation, where surgeons drilled into the bone and inserted two titanium screws as part of a tibial tubercle transfer to realign the patella. It was the ninth operation on Bunton's knees.
"This last time was pretty big. The initial thing was me realising how big the surgery was and other people around me were a bit skeptical as well.
"I was sitting at home and I couldn't move, that's when it hit me. Was it worth it? Was it worth the pain, because it was the most painful experience I had.
"So I was pretty close to [quitting basketball] and thinking about being able to walk when I'm 30 or have a normal life. But honestly, it's the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Opals coach Sandy Brondello has rewarded her rehabilitation persistence by giving Bunton a chance to make her international debut at the championships from September 22-30.
Bunton will be the first Canberra-born player in the Opals at a major event since the tallest female player in Australian history, Sue Geh, played in 1986.
“Alex has worked very hard to get back to full fitness under the guidance of Jan Legg, strength and conditioning coach,” Brondello said.
“She is another big body who will give us an inside presence on c as well as provide us with another physical post player and strong rebounder at the defensive end.
“Alex has always had a lot of potential and now with a healthy body, I am looking forward to watching her development at the World Cup and beyond.”
Bunton has been working at the AIS for the past nine months in a bid to get back on the court and will join the Sydney Flames for their WNBL campaign after the world championships.
She has been earmarked as a future Opal since she was at school, but the rough road to get there has made her a strong person.
"To push through, I think that says a lot about a person. I think it changes who you are, for the better. I know that every single thing I do makes me better. Even if it's the smallest, most boring exercise, I just know it's worth it," Bunton said.
"That's my mantra. It's worth it. The pain is worth it. The injuries are worth it. Because I know that one day I'll feel so accomplished and so at peace with every decision I've made because it's brought me to that position.
"So If I do go to the Olympics I'll be like: 'it was worth it'. All that pain. Those nine knee surgeries. It was worth it."
Australia will play against Nigeria, Argentina and Turkey in the group stages and can clinch an automatic quarter-finals berth if they finish at the top of group B.
AUSTRALIAN OPALS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
September 22: Australia v Nigeria at 8.30pm
September 23: Australia v Argentina at 8pm
September 25: Australia v Turkey at 8.30pm
September 26-30: Finals
Opals squad: Rebecca Allen, Alex Bunton, Elizabeth Cambage, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Cayla George, Tess Madgen, Ezi Magbegor, Lauren Mansfield, Leilani Mitchell, Jenna O'Hea, Alanna Smith, Stephanie Talbot.