The most difficult phase for the cricketer was coming to grips with the situation he found himself in

The return of Yuvraj Singh, hero of India's 2011 World Cup triumph, after his battle against cancer, is a relief for Indian cricket fans.

For this young cricketer at the peak of success — he was crowned Player of the Tournament at the World Cup — it may have seemed that his world had been turned upside down in February 2012 when the germ cell tumour detected in his left lung was found to be malignant.

Denial and acceptance

After being treated in the U.S. and returning to India recently, the cricketer admitted at a press meet that the most difficult phase for him was coming to terms with the situation that he found himself in.

“I was in self-denial mode before accepting the fact I had a problem that needed to be dealt with.” For any patient, that is the first step towards recovery — a sense of acceptance and finally deciding to tackle the situation head on.

It is understandable that an international cricketer who plays 150 to 200 days of active game in a year and keeps himself healthy feels, “It just cannot happen to me.”

Yuvraj was lucky that his ailment was detected early and he was able to undergo the treatment.

For someone who lived life on the fast lane, to be confined to four walls of a hospital room and undergo chemotherapy sessions must have been a painful process. But he took that well and by all accounts of his medical staff, he was a cooperative patient who stuck to strict medical regimen and battled his condition.

Pillar of strength

While undergoing treatment, Yuvraj came to rely upon his mother Shabnam for support. Acknowledging that she was his pillar of strength, he said, “But for her, I could not have made this journey.”

Another source of strength was the legendary American cyclist Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor who rode on to become a world champion. Yuvraj said he half read Armstrong's memoirs on his battle with cancer, My Journey Back To Life, long ago but never finished it. “I was destined to read it again and complete it this time, during the treatment,” he said. “Lance kept mailing me words of cheer and advice,” he said.

Then there was his idol and friend Sachin Tendulkar, who constantly sent messages of hope and encouragement and met up with Yuvraj in London after his treatment. “It was a delightful gesture by Sachin,” recalled Yuvraj.

The inspiration to fight the Big C also came from fellow patients in the U.S. clinic, who shared their own experiences and battles. “Many of them were elderly people and I thought if they can, why can't I?” said Yuvraj.

The battle with cancer taught Yuvraj to see life in a very different perspective. “I realised happiness and good health are more important than money and that life is all about staying happy, healthy and positive and doing something for others,” said the cricketer. Like Armstrong, he too plans to pen his experiences, but the biggest challenge now for the dashing southpaw is to get back to where he belongs — on the field.

Keywords: Yuvraj Singh


Match PointJanuary 13, 2011

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