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July 2011
Sport Icons Battle Cancer
Pargat Singh
Sport Icons who have battled cancer themselves demonstrate an attitude of ‘stand up and take stock of your life’. They inspire charity, compassion and awareness on mass levels…

Sport becomes the combat ground against cancer
Sport stars diagnosed with cancer and emerging victorious, bring cancer to broader wavelengths of public spectrum. Their physical fitness did not help them. Something far chilling was happening inside their own bodies, stuns the belief of invincibility in many a sportsmen. The bubble of ‘I am a celebrity’ bursts on being diagnosed with cancer. There is an anxiety in public, especially cancer patients like them, to see how their heroes take it. And the sport celebrities are forced to live a larger-than-life image while battling their own fears against cancer.

Ordinary people live in the fear of this horrible disease and when their idols struggle and conquer the disease, it only instills the hope and determination to fight death in the same way. Even if their idols like popular footballers Adam Stansfield (died of bowel cancer) and Ernie Cooksey (died of skin cancer at a young age of 28), or those like Arsenal legend, David Rocastle (died at 33) succumb to cancer, their fate enthuses them to go for regular check-ups and equip themselves with all the knowledge about this disease.

Armstrong's Tryst with Testicular cancer
He is one of cancer’s triumphant winners. Whether it is for the immensely popular yellow Live Strong wristbands or the Champion Cyclist, you would have heard of Lance Edward Armstrong. Best known for winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times, after having survived testicular cancer, Armstrong’s philanthropic works towards cancer awareness and aid are unparalleled. In October 1996 at the age of 25, he was diagnosed as having testicular cancer, with a tumour that had metastasized to his brain, abdomen, and lungs.  He went on to win the Tour de France each year from 1999 to 2005.

Lance Armstrong Foundation
Focusing on Cancer Research, Armstrong created the Foundation in 1997 to arm cancer patients with the information, emotional support, knowledge, and attitude needed to successfully deal with their cancer and its treatment. Offering assistance right from the initial diagnosis, the foundation guides you through your treatment options at every level. It also offers the opportunity to interact with other survivors, hear their stories, and gain much needed strength from their successes, apart from urging the government to take action against cancer by increasing research funding and promoting new scientific options that may lead to further treatment options in the future.The foundation is pumping money raised into financial assistance to doctors and scientists all over the world who are working to develop clinical trials and medications that would advance cancer treatment.

Painting the Town Yellow
Pedalling his way through cancer and finally overpowering it, Armstrong created the yellow Live Strong wristbands to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. The yellow wristbands symbolize solidarity and have become a symbol of support and motivation for cancer patients everywhere. Lance’s message to cancer patients is to live strong. From the newspaper boys to celebrities to college students to schoolchildren, all those who want to participate in the cause, don the yellow wristband. Famous footwear brand, Nike endorsed the fundraising effort, donated the first million dollars.

Tennis icon Martina Navratilova diagnosed with a breast cancer, made a comeback less than four months after learning of the diagnosis and undergoing radiation therapy. “You don't forget the day when your life is completely changed forever, she said in the documentary Martina: My Toughest Opponent. She is sharing her story with others to encourage more women to get regular mammograms, unlike her – she skipped four years between check-ups.

In 1999, the world learned that the Yankee manager Joe Torre, a name avowed by the baseball fans, had prostate cancer. Today, he is healthy, cancer-free, and has no plans to retire.

Pargat Singh is Former Captian Indian Hockey Team, A Padma Shree and currently Director of Sports, Punjab.

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