NEW DELHI - Yuvraj Singh is in remission from a rare form of cancer after undergoing chemotherapy in the United States, and India's World Cup star is looking forward to swapping a hospital room for the cricket field.
Yuvraj returned to India on Monday after undergoing most of his treatment in Indianapolis, little more than a year after he led India to its second Word Cup title by scoring 362 runs and taking 15 wickets to be awarded the player of the tournament.
Although on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with germ cell cancer near his lungs late last year, he acknowledges he won't be able to start practicing again for at least two more months.
"The cancer has gone from my body but the mental scars haven't," Yuvraj said at a news conference Wednesday. "The cancer was hard to diagnose. It was really scary. It was hard to believe that I had this illness. It was a hard time ... difficult to understand what was going on.
"I was lucky my cancer was detected at the first stage. During the World Cup, I used to have breathing problems, coughing and vomiting."
The 30-year-old Yuvraj was inspired by reading Lance Armstrong's book, "It's Not About the Bike." The American cycling great won seven Tour de France titles after recovering from a more complicated germ cell cancer in the 1990s.
"Five, six years ago, I had started reading the book by Armstrong but left reading it midway through," said Yuvraj, who shaved his head after the chemotherapy. "I had to come back to it and take inspiration from it. Armstrong is a real-life hero. The way he came back ... I don't know how I'll be able to do it.
"It is important that I take care of my health," he added. "I need to focus on my health rather than being emotional and want to come back to cricket. I will come back for sure, but my body has to recuperate."
Yuvraj, who bludgeoned six sixes off an over from England pace bowler Stuart Broad during the 2007 World Twenty20, last played for India in a home test series against West Indies in November.
He has played 37 tests, 274 one-day internationals and 23 Twenty20 matches since his India debut in 2000. Yuvraj played his first test in 2003 and was vice captain of the ODI team for a year, ending in late 2008. He was supposed to lead Pune Warriors in the ongoing Indian Premier League, but former India captain Sourav Ganguly had to take his place.
Yuvraj has been in touch with Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble and "wanted to be part of the match in which Sachin got his 100th international century," referring to the game against Bangladesh at the Asia Cup, but says he will be happy just to play again.
"For 10 years, I played cricket taking all its pressures. Now I just want to enjoy the game," Yuvraj said. "I'm thankful to God that I'm back on my feet and to my mother for supporting me through all this.
"I used to feel frustrated when I saw cricket matches during my illness but I always tried to be cheerful, have positive thoughts. At the moment, I'm happy and relieved to have got my life back. I don't yet know what the lesson will be from this illness, but I'm sure there will be something."