Yuvraj Singh has taught me a vital lesson

Published: November 13, 2012

“When I was diagnosed, I was really scared. I was not coming to terms that I have got cancer. Being an athlete, it was hard to believe. The hardest part of this journey was staying positive. I used to stay depressed all the time and wanted love and affection from people. I felt like the ugliest man around” PHOTO: AFP

These were the words of an international cricketer – coming back home – who a couple of days earlier, did not know if he would ever play cricket again.

The morning of April 9, 2012 saw Yuvraj Singh arrive back in India- this time, not as a world-class cricketer but as a cancer survivor.

Received by his mother, Shabnam Singh, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, he seemed nothing less than a champion having hit cancer for a six. Moreover, the ingenuous welcome by his devotees reflected nothing but incalculable approbation, besides the expected media frenzy.

Barely does an athlete receive such a salutation back home. But then, Yuvraj was is ordinary fighter. The world, who until the recent past regarded him as a gifted cricketer, has now been given a reason to call him a fighter and a champion in the true sense of the words.

“When I was diagnosed, I was really scared. I was not coming to terms that I have got cancer. Being an athlete, it was hard to believe. The hardest part of this journey was staying positive. I used to stay depressed all the time and wanted love and affection from people. I felt like the ugliest man around”

Yuvraj underwent three painful chemotherapy cycles at the Boston Cancer Research Institute in the US.

On a positive note he didn’t isolate anyone; in fact, he managed to keep his family, friends and fans updated with his battle by staying in touch through public forums online. He was seen regularly interacting with the world through Twitter and received an overwhelming amount of feedback from not only his Indian supporters, but cricket followers the world over. From celebrities to his little fans and from fellow athletes to Lance Armstrong – prayers and wishes for Yuvi kept pouring in like never before.

And then came the big day; the day we anxiously awaited for so long.

‘Goodbye Cancer, Welcome Back Sixer’ read the banner at the Dr YSR Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium on September 8, 2012, the day 27000 spectators gathered just to see Yuvraj Singh swing his bat once again.

“It is going to be huge moment in my life. I can’t wait for 8th (September) to come in. I can’t wait to get on the field. I can’t wait for the excitement, to get on the field and bat,”

Amidst depressing weather, it was Yuvraj’s bright smile that stole the limelight, as India took on New Zealand in their first T20 internationals.

The game however was abandoned as heavy rain took over Visakhapatnam.

Nevertheless, September 11, 2012 was the day Yuvraj Singh stepped onto the cricket field after 10 months. It was the day the stadium was filled once again with avid fans roaring ‘YUVI’ in support of him all across the arena; the day jersey number 12 shone as bright as the sun again.

 “For me personally it was a big emotional moment to get on the field. I had tears in my eyes when we were fielding. Luckily, the cameras did not catch it.”

I need not remind you just how many proud moments this southpaw has given his nation. However, this phase of his life shall be looked upon as a beam of inspiration, not only for the sporting world, but for the many people who are combating this disease everyday of their lives.

“I want to portray to everyone who have the same illness, that don’t be afraid. I was also in denial, I was also afraid. Fight it out, be strong. It’s not easy. But if I can do it, they can do it too.”

Having beaten cancer in a short but fierce battle, Yuvraj Singh now wants to help others fight the disease. To support his cause, he launched a charity called ‘YouWeCan’ that will set up detection centres across India and hold awareness campaigns.

“I endured a lot of pain and don’t want others to go through this. Early detection and awareness will go a long way in saving lives.”

Being a Yuvraj Singh devotee from the start, I had never imagined seeing myself sit down and pen his struggle and survival through cancer, but it was his strength and determination that gave me the courage to write today. I wanted to preach his story, in my word, and let people drive as much inspiration as I did from his battle. I wanted people to see that survivors are strong and I wanted people to draw encouragement and motivation from Yuvraj Singh’s story. He showed the world how strong and determined a person can be and today, I dedicate this post as a tribute to his fight against cancer. I dedicate this post to Yuvraj Singh’s strength and to all those who can draw inspiration from his struggle; just as I did.

Yuvraj will soon be seen telling his story in his own words in a three-part series called “Zindagi Abhi Baaki Hai to be aired on national television. But at the end, what we need to remember is not the fact that it was Yuvraj Singh’s fight against cancer- it was the struggle of a mere mortal against a life threatening disease. This post was to show people that Yuvraj Singh went through same thing and survived- it’s for all those who at some point in their lives did not know how long they were going to live for.

This goes out to everyone who thinks he lived a hopeless hard-shelled life. No success comes without a struggle- Yuvraj’s story just goes to prove that.

You can either let your hardship kill you, or turn you into a stronger person. I would definitely choose the latter.

Read more by Roha here, or follow her on Twitter @RohaNadym

Roha Nadeem

Roha Nadeem

An aspiring A' level student crazily in love with cricket, Roha is a budding writer who enjoys interacting with people. She tweets as @RohaNadym

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://India Feroz

    May this story give courage to all those fighting for their life against various illnesses. Stay strong and have faith, our prayers are with you.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Brilliant piece !
    I appreciate the many lovely pieces written by Pakistanis such as yourself honouring Indian heroes. Says a lot about the upbringing and values of the writers. A big thanks from an Indian. Recommend

  • Pessimist

    Good article. Never been a fan of Yuvraj but coming back from cancer and playing for the national side shows his character. Well done to him & I wish him all the best.
    And I’m sure in the near future he would also set up a charity to help cancer victims, another positive! Recommend

  • I.

    Yuvraj Singh – bravo !!Recommend

  • Sanjit

    Excellent, interesting, well managed. Thank you Roha Nadeem Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    Really nice blog … Recommend

  • Tj

    @nandita how can writing about indians heroes
    Prove that a pakistani has good character?Recommend

  • Hassan

    Inspite Of Being A Pakistani , You Writing for Yuvraj Really Shows Your Loves Towards Him.
    And THIS IS SOME REALLY GOOD STUFF.And The Way You’ve Handled This Article Is Perfect.And Theres Definitly A Spark In The Way You Write Which Forces The Reader To Read It Till The Last Word. Something I Always Knew Was That You’re An Amazing Debator , But You’re An Amazing Writer As Well , I Must Say.
    All The Luck For Your Future ;).Recommend

  • Deb;India


    You said it. The upbringing, the values, the vision of the younger generation of Pakistani writers shine in their articles. I must emphasise here, that even among the older lot there are many such writers. But the younger lot is less constrained by the baggage of history.
    I join you to thank them as well.Recommend

  • saba ayun

    Wow wot a reality of pain denostrated by “roha” .. Yuvraj is not only a gr8 player but also the real fighter… i love the article especially feelings of yuv after knowing the worst reality..keep it up Roha…Recommend

  • abc

    Respect to Yuvi Recommend

  • abc

    @author: I must say, you are remarkably beautiful. :-)Recommend

  • tj

    @nandita how does writing about indian heroes reflect the upbringing of pakistanis , are you saying that others are not brought up well Recommend

  • Haseeb Talal Khan

    A great cricketer and a great fighter too….bravo yuvi…..Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    Nice one.. People who undergo Chemo need to hear such stories. Morale counts for a lot during those times.Recommend

  • Haroon Rashid

    Brilliant piece brother!Recommend

  • ishqerasool

    why you praising this anti pakistani non muslim ??Recommend

  • Raheel

    Respect for Yuvraj; Superb post.Recommend

  • Chulbul Pandey

    @tj: @nandita how does writing about indian heroes reflect the upbringing of pakistanis , are you saying that others are not brought up well

    Sabhi fellow posters ko Chulbul ki Namaste :)

    tj and other who have questioned Nandita’s tribute to the author – Guys, its not a zero-some game. There is so much hatred towards each others and it is reflected even in comments here. For the author to rise above all this and write a piece like this about a hero of the “enemy” country says a lot about his upbringing and values.

    I second Nandita and I don’t mean other pakistanis are not brought up well either. Get over it!Recommend

  • Bisma

    Enjoyed reading the blog! Yovraj’s success has been very inspirational. A great cricketer indeed! wishing him the best of health and success in life! God bless him!Recommend

  • Majid

    Yuvraj Singh: what courage, what talent!Recommend

  • Roha

    Thankyou so much everybody. I totally respect all the above opinions. At the end, its not about being a Pakistani or an Indian, but about being a human first. And the prime reason why i picked up my pen and sat down to write this article was because his story inspired me and i believe it would motivate all those who think they’re living a tough life or going through a dark phase. However it is deeply saddening to see how some people feel no shame in bringing up topics like ‘nationality’ and ‘religion’ into this concept.
    Although i feel gratified to know how people from India are appreciating my work, besides my compatriots. Thankyou. Recommend

  • gp65

    @Author: Great post. Resonates with me even more because my Mom is a cancer survivor.
    @Deb;India: I share your optimism. You’re not at all cynical.
    @tj: If Nandita pays a compliment to the author, it does not mean there is an implied criticism for everyone other than the author.Recommend

  • truth before self

    Roha u rock — Respect, respect, respect —– keep up the good work and I pray you will a Booker prize in the near future -:) — Love from India!!Recommend

  • GhostRider

    Never heard anything like this article from Indians…i guess it tells alot abt the brought upRecommend

  • paki

    great job done and real bravo Youvi respect!!Recommend

  • Yumna

    Because before being anything else, Yuvi is a human being. And just because Yuvi plays for another country, doesn’t necessarily mean he’s anti-Pakistani. I am amazed how much hatred can you store in yourself when you claim yourself to be an “ishqerasool.” You’re doing nothing else but demeaning Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).Recommend

  • poushali

    Roha ur writing was quite strong to get me into picking up a pen as well..
    I was not quite a follower of Yuvi till the last world cup Chennai match, when his kiss blown at d audience caught me head on n I am head over heels since then;-)..but then when the news of the rare type of cancer story hit the headlines, I was absolutely broken..it was a weak helpless n scary feeling, n it drained me off when I visualized him reeling in pain. Cud one believe to see a man of his stature n spirit to be struck by destiny sooo hard?..
    I cant hide d fact that d worst fear did surface in my mind making me a wreck..How much ever you try to cut loose from destiny, fate holds on to you, n I could see that fear being painfully reinforced again..

    But then the prince with his indomitable strength n his equally spirited mother fought the battle n emerged a winner..to the joy and relief of the nation..morning looked brighter, heart felt lighter n life seemed to be rocking again..

    A man with whom millions are connected, here n abroad, unawares did a favour to many.
    He showed belief in oneself, love for his family n indebtedness to all who prayed for him can help one sail through hardest of situations..It is no more fantasy that we often see in films, prayers n tears n wishes bringing a man back from the clutch of the inevitable!

    GOOD LUCK n thanku YUVI!..Recommend

  • Sohail

    Very impressive Yuvi: Of course you are real fighter.
    This story tell us that one must be positive in his dark era because “*star are lways shining in pitch-dark night”.*Recommend

  • S

    You’re a really good writer, Roha!
    I’m impressed.
    Autograph please?
    P.S I never appreciated his struggle the way I do atm, and it’s because of your article.
    Major respect for your Yuvi!Recommend