If life is all about clawing back, then that is what Yuvraj Singh has done and will have to continue doing in the difficult days of rehabilitation ahead for him. In his task of taking on cancer and trying to keep it at bay, he has with him the story of Lance Armstrong with whom he has become twitter friends.
What does Lance Armstrong’s story, which he has read, hold for Yuvraj?
Lance Armstrong’s best-selling and motivational book: It’s not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life is not just an awesome and wrenching sports biography. It is a story of courage and the lasting lesson of ‘never to give up.’ If anyone clawed back from the brink it is Armstrong, who showed in life the incredible grit of a long distance biker as he gasped his way out of defeat, triumphantly to the finishing line.
Armstrong was naturally, the fittest boy you could ever find. They don’t make men like him anymore. At 16, when he was tested out, his VO2 max, which measures how much oxygen you can taken in and use, his was the highest the lab had ever measured. Also his body produces less lactic acid which means that his muscles and body does not ache. He was a born champion.
It is this absolute marvel of an athletes body that in a cruel twist of fate was ravaged by testicular cancer which later spread to other parts of his body including the brain. Doctors gave him 40 per cent chances of survival. How did Armstrong kept his mind and body together as he traipsed between life and death, determination and depression.
Armstrong’s words: “ I won’t kid you. There are two Lance Armstrongs, pre-cancer and post. Everybody’s favourite question is ‘How did cancer change you?’ the real question is how did it change me? I left my house on October 2, 1996, as one person and came home another. I was a world-class athlete with a mansion on a river bank, keys to a Porsche, and a self-made fortune in the bank. I was one of the top riders in the world and my career was moving along a perfect arc of success. I returned a different person, literally. In a way, the old me did die, and I was given a second life. Even my body is different, because during the chemotherapy I lost all the muscle I had ever built up and when I recovered it didn’t come back in the same way.’
Words which Yuvraj can write as well. How did Armstrong finally make it back to start racing again? One year after he was diagnosed, Armstrong was declared fully fit and clear.
“According to my doctors there was only a minimal chance that the disease would come back. But how do you survive cancer? That’s the part no one give you advice on. What does it mean? What shape was my life supposed to take? What now? What about my recurring nightmares, my dreams?”
Armstrong started training slowly. His mind was not in it. Negatives thoughts twirled in his mind. In his first pro race after his return, Armstrong finished 14th. He wasn’t happy but he was back.
Cancer, according to Armstrong, teaches many things. It forced him to develop a plan for living and that in turn taught him to develop a plan for smaller goals. The battle as Yuvraj will well know by now, is to first win the Grand Prix in the mind. And then to start “riding like the wind.”
It is a tough haul. But champions know what it means to cycle up the Pyrennes.