Paes relieved he doesn't have cancer

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL: Leander Paes is brought into a news conference at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando on Monday, where he would say that he was greatly relieved that he did not have cancerous tumour. — AP

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL: Leander Paes is brought into a news conference at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando on Monday, where he would say that he was greatly relieved that he did not have cancerous tumour. — AP  

ORLANDO Aug. 26. Leander Paes who won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon with Martina Navratilova last month, said on Monday he is relieved that he is not suffering from a brain tumour.

Paes, 30, has been hospitalised since last week. Test results released over the weekend found that he has neurocysticercosis, a parasitic infection that causes a brain abscess.

"It's just a matter of time until I overcome this illness," Paes said at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando where went for treatment. "There are times in the day when I get dizzy ... and feel very light-headed. I have to have 24-hour monitoring."

A brain abscess is a mass of immune cells, pus and other material that can occur when bacteria or fungus infects the brain. Paes is taking albendazole, an anti-parasitic medication, to shrink the abscess, steroids to reduce the swelling and an anti-seizure medication. He could be released from the hospital in anywhere from eight to 20 days and could return to playing professional tennis in three to fourth months.

Paes said he still isn't sure how he got the parasite, which usually comes from eating pork. Paes doesn't eat pork, so more likely suspects are raw leafy vegetables and raw fish since he became an avid sushi-eater last year.

He first noticed symptoms, such as dizziness, during the mixed-doubles quarterfinal at Wimbledon when he was playing with Navratilova.

"I actually came up to hit a smash and when I landed on the ground, something must have shaken inside my brain because I lost all sight. I lost all control of my balance and I was falling down," he said. "I caught Martina and I tried to hold her for stability...That was the first time that had occurred."

He had severe headaches last week and was given brain scans after being hospitalised. Doctors initially concluded he had a brain tumor. But they changed their opinion after taking biopsies and blood tests, which also were evaluated at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and physicians in Bombay.

Paes teamed with Navratilova to win two of the first three Grand Slam titles this year, including the Australian Open.

"I am sad that I can't be at the U.S. Open but these are the obstacles that life throws at you," he said. "I'm very blessed that what could have happened — the brain tumour — didn't happen."

Paes, who won a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, said his goals are to be healthy enough to be at next year's Athens Olympics and to win four more matches in the Davis Cup.

He has received an outpouring of support from India, including fans offering ritual prayers and nuns at Mother Teresa's home offering invocations. Local fans have disguised themselves as florists and deliverymen to try to get in his hospital room.

Navratilova has called him almost every other day and promised to wait for him to get healthy before playing competitive mixed doubles.

"She had some wonderful advice for me on looking at the bigger picture in life," Paes said. — AP

Mahesh's visit

PTI adds:

Paes said he was deeply moved by his former doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi's gesture of visiting him in hospital.

Reflecting on the wonderful partnership he had with Bhupathi, which won the pair three Grand Slam titles, before their second separation last year, Paes said "one of the disadvantages we human beings have is that we don't forgive and forget very easily."

The pair popularly known as `Indian Express' was scheduled to play at the Long Island ATP tournament in New York last week but pulled out after Paes was hospitalised.

"It was very heart warming and very special to have Mahesh here and spend about three hours with me. That was very nice of him. His visit definitely built back the bridge that was almost broken between us. It meant a lot to me," an emotional Paes told NDTV.

"I believe that once you love someone that love remains for ever. It's just that it is interpreted in a different way. As far as my relation with Mahesh...I hold him in very high regard. I support him in his tennis always and I encourage him to be the best he can be," Paes said.

"We had some wonderful years. Wonderful memories that I will never forget," said Paes who won more than 20 ATP titles with Bhupathi.

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