I am a huge cricket fan and have spent many years working as a Doctor. So I was fortunate to come across Yuvraj Singh’s book, ‘The test of my life, from cricket to cancer and back’.
The Indian big hitting, all rounder is an immense talent. He was named as player of the tournament in the 2011 Cricket World Cup, won by India.
Here I will provide an insight into this well written book in which the Indian cricket superstar lays bare his inner thoughts and fears.
Yuvraj Singh was born in 1981 in Chandigarh, Punjab. He had a very sporty upbringing and was a prize winning roller skater. As a child he also had a few bit parts in Punjabi movies.
Yuvraj’s passion for cricket was inspired by his father, who had played some International level cricket. Yuvraj was pushed hard by his father to train, practice and succeed.
Yuvraj was a natural big hitter even as a teenager. He swiftly progressed and was part of India’s Under 19 world cup winning team of 2000. He was named player of the tournament.
In January 2011, the night before facing South Africa, in an ODI in Johannesburg, Yuvraj coughed up some blood. During the match he felt more out of breath than normal. He didn’t seek any medical advice and carried on playing.
In April 2011, during the Cricket World Cup Yuvraj continued to suffer vomiting, shortness of breath, neck pains, coughing up blood and insomnia. However due to his good scores and wickets, he kept on going. India eventually won the title against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.
In May 2011, 29 year old Yuvraj consulted a doctor and had a chest xray. It showed a left sided lung mass, a possible tumour. He went on to have a painful biopsy, but the result was inconclusive.
At this point Yuvraj was ill advised and chose to have acupuncture to shrink the lung mass. He cancelled his international tour to the West Indies. However he was desperate to be fit for the tour of England in the summer. Although still feeling ill, he played in England, but fractured a finger in the 2nd Test and returned back home to India.
Still suffering in October 2011, he went onto have another lung biopsy, this time under general anaesthetic. This time the results confirmed he had a rare mediastinal germ cell tumour, a seminoma. The large cancer mass (15x13x11cm) was between his lungs, pressing on the heart.
He had played 2 Tests at home against the West Indies and was due to fly out on tour to Australia. Yuvraj was devastated, in the prime of his life at the peak of his career he was struck down by CANCER. However as we know the head strong Yuvraj has a big heart and is a fighter, never giving up.
After seeking advice, he travelled to USA for specialist treatment. Under the care of Dr Lawrence Einhorn, Simon Cancer Centre, University of Indiana, Indianapolis.
He was told the cancer was fortunately curable, but he needed 3 cycles over chemotherapy over 2 months.
He, his mother and a few friends looked for a local apartment. It was a very lonely, depressing and difficult time for Yuvraj. The side effects of chemotherapy took their toll. Body weakness, extreme fatigue, generalised pains, hair loss and depression. He was very well looked after by the hospital staff and his mother was a pillar of strength. Although at a very low stage of his life, he remained positive and fought.
He reflected that only a few months previously his was player of the tournament and winner of the cricket world cup. Now he could barely walk.
He was visited in hospital by his friends and retired cricketer Anil Kumble. The Indian cricket board (BCCI) were also supportive towards during this time.
Chemotherapy ended in March 2012, he returned to India and started training 2 months later.
In July 2012, he set up and launched a charity for cancer sufferers:
In September 2012 Yuvraj Singh was back in the Indian team and participated in the Twenty20 cricket world cup in Sri Lanka.
After reading the emotional story of Yuvraj Singh, I have developed even more respect for this great cricketer. He won his fight against cancer and now contributes to helping other sufferers who may not be so lucky.