Thursday, 11 April 2013



In wake of Eric Abidal's return to office we will like to pay tribute to some athletes who have battled adversity to make stirring comebacks to their respective sports. The popular saying goes 'when the fight is against cancer there's only one winner' but these gladiators have re-written medical history to return to the sports arena. This piece should also serve as an inspiration to some famous sportsmen like Stilliyan Petrov who is fighting Leukemia.

Eric Abidal

March 2011, Barcelona announced that Abidal had been diagnosed with a tumor in his liver and the player underwent surgery two days later. citing privacy concerns as wished by the player, the club did not release additional information in regards to his condition. in response to the announcement, players and fans around the world dedicated well wishes to him on various social networking service (excluding 2go) and sports websites. in the Champions League final against manchester united, he played the fulll 90 minutes of Barcelona's 3-1 triumph and in a gesture to mark his recovery, Carles Puyol handed him his captain's armband and allowed him to lift the trophy in front of 85,000 people at Wembley Stadium in London.

March 2012, Due to unresolved problems from the previous operation, it was announced that the Lyon born defender would have to undergo a Liver transplant. On 10 April he went under the knife, with his cousin Gerard being the donor; on the same day Barcelona poured all their frustrations on Getafe by beating the madrid side 4–0, hence dedicating the victory to the player in the post-game press conference.

April 2013 Abidal returned to official play, replacing Gerrard Pique for the last 20 minutes of a 5–0 home win against RCD Mallorca, a day the whole Catalans were on their feet to give honor to whom honor was due.

Lance Armstrong

Born September 18 1971. Lance Armstrong is an inspiration to athletes around the world for his determination to battle the odds. At the age of 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was not a small tumour; he had metastasized cancer that had spread through from his testicle through his lungs and into his brain. On his first visit to an urologist in Austin, Texas, for his cancer symptoms, he was coughing up blood and had a large, painful testicular tumor. Immediate surgery and chemotherapy saved his life. Armstrong had an orchiectomy to remove his diseased testicle. After his surgery, his doctor said that he had less than a 40% survival chance. He did much more than survive; he won an unprecedented seven consecutive Tour de France medals and, perhaps more importantly, founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help fight cancer. Against the odds, he survived and persevered.

Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux is widely acknowledged to be the Edison Arantes d' Nascimento of Ice Hockey. June 12 1993 he was brought back to earth when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. His fabled feats on ice aside, his most remarkable feat is overcoming Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes that had taken the life of one of his cousins, and a debilitating back injury. He was forced to undergo energy-draining aggressive radiation treatments, leaving his career and possibly his survival in doubt. He missed two months of play, and without him, the Penguins struggled.

"Notwithstanding Gretzky's abiding majesty, posterity will never forget that no athlete—not even the sainted Lou Gehrig—has ever before Lemieux been struck down by a deadly disease at the very moment when he was the best of his sport at the best he ever would be. And since: Lemieux has achieved miraculously in remission, struggling, on the side, with a back injury so grievous that it has benched him after he merely laced up a skate. That is the stuff that answers people these days when they wonder where all our sports heroes have gone." Frank Defford Newsweek.

Remarkably, Lemieux returned to the sport after radiation treatment and on October 26, 1995, scored his 500th career goal playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in his 650th game, becoming the second-fastest player to reach the landmark.

When asked which was a tougher hockey task for him, battling back from Hodgkin's disease or coming back to action after a three-and-a-half year layoff, Lemieux said: "I think the one coming back from the radiation treatments was probably the most successful, I would think because of the fact that I didn't train for six weeks and just went to the hospital every day and I had radiation treatments and my strength was depleted. To be able to come back, I think I averaged close to three points or over three points in the last few games to catch Pat LaFontaine was probably the best of all the comebacks."

Dave Callaghan

The former South African cricketer was diagnosed with testicular cancer in September 1991. He received treatment and returned to full health to receive his maiden call-up to the national squad a year later. In his eight year long International career he only played 29 times for South Africa. The defining moment of his international career was a tremendous all-round performance against New Zealand at Centurion during the Mandela Trophy in 1994, in what was Callaghan's first innings after recovering from cancer. Opening the batting, he hit an unbeaten 169 off 143 balls and took a career-best 3 for 32 to help South Africa to victory, and with it the Man-of-the-Match award.

Last year, David John Callaghan celebrated the 20 years of his victory over cancer. The 47-year-old uses his celebrity status to promote cancer awareness and he said “I try to inform people that early detection is very important and that they should not be too scared to consult a doctor.”

Ntini and David

Mike Lowell

A year after he made his Major League Baseball debut for the New York Yankees, third baseman Mike Lowell was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 24. Lowell's cancer was first detected on February 19, 1999 but by May 29 he was in the Florida Marlins' line-up after missing all of spring training and nearly two months of the MLB season.

Lowell underwent surgery Feb. 21 and had his testicle removed. He then went through three weeks of radiation treatment that he said, "knocked him out." In three days, Lowell lost about 10 pounds but slowly regained the weight and as his body learned to deal with the radiation, he returned to the minor leagues. After just four games, the Marlins recalled him on April 13. In the 12 years since Lowell defeated cancer, he has won three World Series titles and been named to the All-Star team four times.

Edna Campbell

Edna Campbell is a retired women's basketball player who is best known for continuing to play in the WNBA despite suffering from breast cancer. The 5'8" guard was diagnosed with breast cancer during her fourth season as a professional, but triumphantly went on to defeat the cancer and return to play for several more years. In 2006, her return to basketball was voted the "most inspirational moment" in WNBA history. Campbell became and inspiring symbol to many cancer survivors.

Edna's shoes spot's the
pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness
Eric Davis

All-star baseball player Eric Davis was diagnosed with colon cancer during the 1997 season, and his bold admittance to return the same season proved inspirational. He underwent surgery the very next day, and went on to receive chemotherapy around his workouts and games. He also cut down his consumption of alcohol and fatty and fried foods. In September 1997, Davis returned to the field during the play-offs and surprised everyone with his determination and physical prowess despite receiving chemotherapy. Afterward, he became the first player ever to hit more than 30 home runs and steal fifty bases in a single season. Throughout his career, Davis won almost every major award in baseball.

Josh Bidwell

Former Washington Redskins punter Josh Bidwell was in his rookie season when he when he first noticed an irregularity with his testicles. Doctors told him the cancer had spread beyond his testicles, and Bidwell was put on chemotherapy after having had emergency surgery. After chemotherapy sessions, Bidwell lost 50 pounds and was barely able to walk. But, remarkably, he made a famous return to the football field after six months of rehab. His best year came in 2005 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he was named for the Pro Bowl.

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