"When you hear the word cancer for the first time, you really get scared. Cancer. It's like a death sentence. You become really unsure where your life will take you." - Yuvraj Singh.
From a low moment in life to helping the nation lift the World Cup trophy after 28 years, to being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer within a few months from glory, Yuvraj Singh's journey has been nothing short of riveting and valiant. A timeline of events.
2011 - World Cup Glory
Smashing 362 runs and accumulating 15 wickets in the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj was on absolute fire. There's no need of any introduction for this lionheart warrior who always abided by the Indian side and delivered regularly on a daily basis whenever he walked on to the field. In India's clash against Ireland in the 2011 World Cup, the Chandigarh-born southpaw had become the first player to score 50 runs and take five wickets in a World Cup match. Under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India went on to win the 2011 World Cup, where Yuvi was adjudged as the Man of the tournament.
From there on, the world seemed like an oyster for the World Cup-winning hero, but fate had other plans for Yuvraj.
February 5, 2012 - Cancer
The World Cup glory was short-lived after the southpaw was diagnosed with cancer. Yuvraj had earlier been detected with a tumour between his left lung and heart, which was termed as malignant. Yuvraj flew to USA for chemotherapy at Cancer Research Insititute, Boston. However, lesser known, Yuvraj's diagnosis was delayed until October 2011 as the first biopsy report was stolen, then an Indian hospital (unnamed) got the diagnosis wrong. Later on, it was a Russian doctor who detected cancer.
After a while, it was discovered that Yuvraj was likely suffering from a rare condition called lung seminoma, in which the chances of recovery are more than 95 per cent. The condition has no relation to excessive smoking or alcoholism.
"The diagnosis of cancer shortly after the high of the World Cup victory, it took the joy out of everything, it was a very dark moment in my life, that little mental wince again," Yuvraj Singh was quoted as saying by cricketnext.
"When you win the World Cup, when you are Man of the Tournament, you are on top of the mountain. Suddenly, you fall in the ditch. It's just life, you don't expect that -- you are left with no choice," Yuvraj further added.
It is learnt that Yuvraj ignored many symptoms during the World Cup in order to be focused on his game and stay with the team. It was revealed by the southpaw that it was as early as the beginning of 2011 when he began experiencing severe symptoms such as acute breathlessness and used to spit out blood.
“At first I was in denial about it — playing for India was more important than my health and for a few months I chose to ignore the blood I spat out or my decline in stamina." - Yuvraj Singh, according to Onco.com
Yuvraj met the doctors in US who had previously treated former cyclist Lance Armstrong. After three intensive cycles of chemotherapy, Yuvraj flew back to India in March. Yuvraj had beaten cancer!
March, 2012 - Kicking cancer to the curb and back on the field!
After a few intensive cycles of chemotherapy, just like thrashing the bowlers on field, Yuvraj had defeated cancer and was ready to get back on track, pad up and walk out to the crease. He made his international comeback in a T20I against New Zealand. As life went on, the Chandigarh da 'sher' went on to post his career-best ODI score of 150 in January 2017 against England at Cuttack, which India went on to win by 15 runs.
Yuvraj was also a part of India's 15-member squad for the 2017 Champions Trophy where India reached the final but lost to rivals Pakistan.
The age factor soon caught up and without knowing, Yuvraj played his last T20 match against England in February, 2017 and his last ODI against West Indies in June, 2017. He has been playing for Punjab in domestic cricket and recently was a part of Mumbai Indians squad, which won a record fourth IPL trophy in 2019. Yuvraj had also won the IPL in 2016 with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The southpaw has played 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20Is for India. Mulling over his retirement from International and domestic cricket, Yuvraj's journey has been an inspiration for many which teach us all the on how to never give up.
Thank You and Good Luck Yuvi!