'Lived in a state of denial for long'

'Lived in a state of denial for long'

'Lived in a state of denial for long'
Yuvraj Singh was a distant shadow of the flashy cricketer one had known him to be. His gait was slow and cautious and the thick mass of hair was gone. To divert the unsparing attention, he quickly broke into his trademark grin, which though reassuring, instantly introduced you to a man who had just come out of the harshest winter of his 30-year-old life.

However, not the one to compromise with his sense of humour, he regaled the waiting media with his quick repartee, at times, perhaps, to blunt the sharp truths.

“This is only the second time I have heard claps from you guys,” he smiled, flaunting the black shades. The first time he was applauded by the media was after his 2011 World Cup quarterfinal innings against Australia.  

The interaction on Wednesday lasted an hour at his academy here. He remained remarkably calm when speaking about his painful three-months of chemotherapy to cure a rare germ-cell cancer, the emotional upheavals that followed and the changes these struggles brought within and to his life in general. 

“It was tough to believe that I had cancer. I lived in a state of denial for long. I thought I am an athlete, I am training six hours daily, how can I have cancer? Though I remained happy and cheerful on surface, deep down I knew that there was a serious issue and I have to come out of it. The bouts of cough were there for long and I had problem breathing from the left side,” said Yuvraj.

It took him months to come to terms with his sickness. His three months in the United States (Indianapolis) helped him turn a new leaf in his attitude towards life and he learnt to take illness in his stride.

“I met various patients with similar disease but they were quite at ease with their problem. I was talking to this man about my problem and he told me that his wife suffered from leukaemia for ten years and she was fine now. 

He sounded perfectly normal about it and here I was getting so affected. I realised awareness is importance and not to neglect your health. I was having coughing bouts before the World Cup but I ignored them,” he said. “It is important to be positive and have the support of friends and family. If I can, I am sure a lot many people can fight it out too.”   

All through, his mother was a pillar of strength. “During the two months of treatment, I often wept like a child but my mother did not shed a tear. Hats off to her! I was usually too weak to get up from bed. I would go for a walk, play some video games or watch movies. And cook sometimes. My mother had taught me to make matar pulao,” he smiled.

For now, Yuvraj the cricketer is happy going in the shadows, mustering the strength to start off a new innings.