He's beaten cancer, but Yuvraj plans to keep fighting it
India's star batsman Yuvraj Singh, who was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year before making a remarkable recovery, is now looking at creating awareness for the fatal disease in India.
Harish Kotian spoke with the dashing left-hander to find out more about his plans.
India has one of the highest cancer rates in the world with the dreaded disease killing nearly half a millions Indians in 2011. Yet, the awareness and detection of cancer is still in the infancy stage with many considering it to be a big stigma and generally it is the women who are discriminated.
His aim he says from now will be to help Indians get cancer detected at an early stage, especially those who have no one with them to fight cancer. His foundation YouWeCan will create consciousness on cancer prevention, early detection and also fight against the stigma associated with the disease.
"The stigma of cancer is very bad in India and people think that if you are diagnosed with the disease, you will die. There are a lot of issues -- like if someone in a family has cancer then people don't want to get married to that family, because they feel that the girl child might have cancer," Yuvraj told Rediff.com.
"So I think the stigma of cancer needs to be removed and that is what my foundation YouWeCan works on. We are working on removing the stigma and spreading awareness about cancer in India and that is my main motto at the moment," the 30-year-old added.
To make a contribution to Yuvraj's foundation YouWeCan click here
Image: Yuvraj Singh
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
'Now with cricket my motive is to save a lot of lives'
The left-hander, who underwent treatment in the US, says though his main aim in life is to get back to play cricket, along with that he will also find time to contribute and help cancer patients in India by regularly taking part in camps and social programmes.
"Now with cricket my motive is to save a lot of lives, to urge people to get tests done early to detect it early if they get any symptoms, go door to door and press for detections, go to small towns and help poor peoples save their lives," he said.
"It is generally about inspiring people and helping them to fight the disease and inspire others. My agenda is spreading the message that no matter what stage you are in, if you have the will you can fight cancer and can lead a normal life," the dashing batsman added.
The Web site of YouWeCan has detailed information on the various types of cancers along with the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment cycle.
The story of Yuvraj's successful battle with cancer will also be featured in a documentary that will be shown on a television channel, which he hopes will inspire people in India to fight the disease with renewed vigour.
Image: Pradeep Bandekar
'I hope how I battled cancer and overcame it will inspire a lot of people'
YouWeCan was basically formed for cancer awareness and to make people understand what the disease is all about and give them information. People think if they are diagnosed with cancer then they will die but that is not the case. We will organise various events through YouWeCan that will help us reach out to the people. We are starting by having my documentary aired on Colors television which will show how I battled cancer and overcame it, which I hope will inspire a lot of people."
Yuvraj has also planned to tap the young generation by collaborating with mobile phone companies. "We will have YouWeCan apps on Microsoft mobiles and Nokia Lumia mobiles which will give information on cancer. So we are planning lot of things for YouWeCan."
India and New Zealand will square up against each other in a two-match Twenty20 series and Yuvraj will be asking his team-mates to sport the YouWeCan logo on their jerseys to support his venture.
Photographs: Chirag Wakaskar/Getty Images for Cartier International
'My mother and I fought cancer together'
"I will also ask my teammates during the two Twenty20 matches against New Zealand to wear the YouWeCan logo on their shirts which will again bring awareness about my foundation," he said.
Like many cancer patients, Yuvraj revealed how difficult it was for him to accept the news when he was first told that he was diagnosed with cancer. "When the doctor first told me I had cancer, the first thing I told him was 'I hope you have not told my mother,' but he replied saying that she already knows it. It was tough to see my mother going through the crisis. It was tough on her, but she stood by me and she fought cancer with me and I am so happy to have a mother like that."
He further added that he was able to see through the tough times of chemotherapy with the support of his mother and close friends.
"I must add that I took a lot of emotional strength from my mother, who has been very strong all through. She used to get up early, cook for me three times a day, then take me to the hospital, remember all my doses of medicines, basically she was devoting all her time to me."
Photographs: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
'I think this battle has made me stronger'
"All my friends were there. Nishant (Arora) was there, Sandeep Sharma was there, Anish, Gautam, a couple of other friends were there in the US. I also made a few friends over there. My mother and a couple of relatives were there, so my family stood by me during the tough times and that was very important," he added.
The dashing left-hander, who was known for his wild lifestyle and was always seen at parties before he was struck by cancer, says he is now taking a different perspective to life.
"Before cancer life was happy go lucky and I was just going with the flow. There was a lot of tension about future, career and how to become a better player, whether I would score runs, whether I would take wickets, whether I would win matches."
"I think this battle has made me stronger. When you win a battle like this, it is like winning a war. So when you come out of it you feel very confident of yourself and you are also very happy to get your life back and see the future," he said.
Image: Yuvraj Singh
Photographs: Rediff Archives