Yuvraj Singh: Cancer is like a yorker, you have to hit it for a six
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"I didn't believe when I was first told that I have cancer. I thought how can a young person like me get cancer? I thought it could never happen to me. It took me a while to accept that I was diagnosed with cancer."
This was India team's stylish left-handed cricketer Yuvraj Singh talking about "survivorship" on the World Cancer Day.
On Monday, it was not about cricket. As Yuvraj told the gathering of cancer survivors: "Today is about survivorship."
Yuvraj wiped the constantly welling tears as he watched a video showing him taking multiple injections and undergoing chemotherapy at a hospital in Indianapolis where he had battled the stage-1 cancerous tumour in his left lung. "I always cry. It is my mother who remained strong but I became a crybaby. I felt that life might come to an end," he said.
But, the event was not about self pity and Yuvraj cracked jokes.
He described how he had a craving for kadhi chawal and one of his friends drove 11 hours to bring him the dish. But his weakened body was unable to keep the food down.
For the survivors at the event — those undergoing treatment and those in remission — Yuvraj's presence brought hope and reassurance.
"When I went into remission four years ago, there was some stigma from my friends. But ever since Yuvraj went public with his cancer, there was more understanding," said 18-year-old Chandan Kumar. "He may not have been around when we were recovering from cancer, but when someone as important as him is associated with our cause, we get positive reactions from people who wouldn't care about the disease earlier," he said.
For Pranav Arora (15), Yuvraj was the key motivation. "When I started undergoing chemotherapy, I was very worried. One day, my doctor asked me to speak to someone on the phone. It was Yuvraj on the other end. Yuvraj told me that the cancer was like a yorker ball, and I had to hit it for a six. He said it was going to be hard but not impossible," he said.