December 14, 2011

I realised health is the most important thing. Money, fame, cars, adulation... they all count for nothing: Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj Singh is back in action after recovering from lung tumour
MUMBAI: Yuvraj Singh celebrated his 30th birthday like he normally does, if he's not travelling with the Indian team: quietly, with his family and close friends in his home town. Yet, it was very different.

"Yes, it feels different, it's like a new life for me," he said on Tuesday, a day after the muted celebrations. "It's almost like I am starting all over again," he said, unable to subdue the joy and excitement in his voice.

The year going by has truly been a roller-coaster for him: one moment, he found himself at the top of the ride; the very next he was at its lowest point. "I was living my biggest dream, winning the World Cup and taking the Man of the Tournament trophy too; and then I got to know that I had a tumour in my lung," he conceded.

At that point, he didn't know that it was non-malignant; at that point, he didn't know that he would be one of those lucky few who would go all the way to hell and come back too. "I just couldn't understand how life could serve me both at virtually the same time."

Yuvraj, though, doesn't believe in moping or even living in the past. "The New Year is round the corner. I am hoping it will bring fresh tidings. People around me are happy. I am happy," he said.

Explaining the trauma, he confirmed that he knew something was terribly wrong during the IPL. "I had started feeling breathless during the World Cup. I used to vomit every time I ate. When the problem continued even after that, I decided it was time to go for a checkup. "I was shocked beyond words when I first got to know."

The 2010 had already been bad for me. I had to fight one injury after another. And this came," he revealed. Yuvraj never yielded though. "I know I am a good person. I have only done good things in life. So I knew something so bad could not happen to me."

Even though he was anxious - even scared - in his heart, he refused to show it. "The belief came from within. But more importantly I had to believe this is not the end, for my mom's sake. I am a positive person and I knew I had to get out of this on my own. Just like the way I have played my cricket," he declared.

He went on the disastrous tour to England, determined to make a fist of it, of his Test career and his life too. "It was not easy to focus. The non-playing days were tough. But once I was on the field, I forgot everything. The pain, the fear vanished," he revealed.

In the second Test, injury came knocking again: he broke his finger. Yuvraj, however, saw it as a blessing in disguise. "I needed rest. My body needed a break. That's when I realized the big truth: I can't fight time. I can't fight my own body."

The early return back home gave him the window to follow up on tests and other checkups. "The biopsy confirmed that the tumour was not malignant. It was three weeks before the series against West Indies," he said.

"For the first time in a long while, I had a big smile on my face. My mom was jumping all around in joy. I was ready to take on life again," he said. The life-changing experience has taught him many things: "Appreciate life. Enjoy all its small successes and sweet moments. I also realized that health is the most important thing. Money, fame, cars, adulation... they all count for nothing."

As of now, he is back on course towards rehabilitation. "I do yoga in the morning and light training in the evening. In a week's time, I should be practicing like normal. I will be ready for the one-dayers in Australia," he declared. "I just can't wait to have that India logo on my shirt again. I want to wear that India cap again. I can't wait to play cricket. That's what my life is all about," he said, allowing a quiver in his voice.

Not too surprisingly, he has no plans for the future. "After what I went through, it doesn't make any sense to make plans. I just want to be 100 per cent fit," he said, thanking all his friends, family and even the BCCI for their love and support.

Yes, for some, life gives a second chance.

The Times of India