Yuvraj Singh’s life is an inspiration to everyone. Widely deemed as one of the greatest limited-overs cricketers to emerge from India, Yuvraj has done wonders for his country.
The southpaw has hit six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad during the inaugural ICC World Twenty20. In the same tournament, he had scored a scintillating 30-ball 70 against Australia in the semi-final to propel India into the final, where they beat Pakistan by 5 runs to lift the trophy.
Yuvraj was adjudged Man of the Tournament in India’s triumphant 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup campaign. He had played in the showpiece event while suffering from an illness and vomiting blood. The illness was later diagnosed as cancer on his left lung.
Subsequently, Yuvraj took a sabbatical from cricket for his treatment at the Cancer Research Institute in Boston, United States and eventually made a return to competitive cricket in September 2012. Since then the 36-year-old is doing his bit for the cancer patients by running a foundation called ‘YouWeCan’.
In an exclusive interview with CricketNext, Yuvraj said: “Before cancer, everything was about cricket and performing and worrying about the sport. I felt when I came back from cancer that living life in the moment was very important. Having a good meal with friends, being with my family, those became paramount. Cricket has given me great friends, it’s basically given me everything. I appreciate that. And with my YouWeCan Foundation, I am trying to do what I can to help with treatments for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. I think my life has taken the right shape. When I stop playing, I will work even harder on something that is very close to my heart, something that’s very close to my journey.”
Recalling that horrific period in the hospital, the left-hander further elaborated: “Lying in my hospital bed, I started to think. I started to see what impact cancer has on a normal human person. At the end of the day, that’s all I am – a normal human person. I realised that so many people back home get diagnosed and don’t have money for treatment. So I said if I survive, I can go back and work on something, work that adds fruitful meaning to my life.”
“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. 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. And I was left with no choice. I had to bounce back and I did it in what I thought was the best way I could,” he explained.
Yuvraj is convinced that being a sportsperson helped him overcome his battle with a rare form of stem cell cancer. Moreover, he feels it added a new layer to his personality.
“Cancer has made me very strong as a person. I feel that never-giving-up spirit is very important. It is something that I have because it is a very tough journey. Unless you go through it, you don’t realise it, and I hope people don’t go through it. The journey has made me stronger. We can talk about it lots but I just feel that one positive that came out of it was because of cricket, I was able to bounce back. Because of sport. Because I always had that never-giving-up attitude,” he said.
“When I was struck down by cancer, I had that same attitude to come back. Everybody said that it was going to take me 2-3 years to come back and start playing normally, if at all. I came back and played in six months. 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. And I was left with no choice. I had to bounce back and I did it in what I thought was the best way I could,” he elaborated.
As a high-profile celebrity, Yuvraj Singh is a role model for all the cancer suffering patient in the world.
“A lot of people have been inspired by my story. Every time I go to the hospital to meet young kids, they tell me how about they have been lifted by what I have done. They tell their families that if Yuvi can do it, so can you. I think it is a great message, a strong message sent across to people – that if this guy can do it, why can’t we?” Yuvraj concluded.