Fighter to the TE!
By: Clayton Murzello
THIS is no ordinary story of one man clinging on to dear life in the throes of adversity and asking aloud, 'why me?'
HE'S NO QUITTER: Former Test batsman TE Srinivasan makes a point while on a short visit to Mumbai on Friday.
It's about celebration of life and triumph of the spirit no matter if the battle against the worst medical enemy of the human race is ultimately won or lost.
For more than three years now, former India cricketer T E Srinivasan is battling malignant brain tumour with the kind of courage which matched his attitude when he graced the cricket greens in the 1970s and 1980s.
Srinivasan (58 next month), who played a solitary Test for India on the 1980-81 tour of New Zealand, was in Mumbai last week for a few tests and treatment at the Tata Memorial hospital where he is being treated by Dr Rakesh Jalali, Associate Professor, Radiation Oncology and NeuroOncology. Dr Jalali also runs the Brain Tumour Foundation of India, a charity dedicated to the welfare of people with brain tumours and their families.
When MiD DAY visited Srinivasan at his sister's home in Churchgate last week, we expected to see a pitiful sight, but to our pleasant surprise, Srinivasan walked into the living room with a smile on his face, dressed in a t'shirt and a track pant all set for his evening walk down Marine Drive.
A few months ago, says his pillar-of-strength wife Mala, he couldn't move or talk normally. So what's been doing the trick? Chemotherapy yes, love and good care certainly, but more than anything else, the grit displayed not only by the cancer-afflicted former batsman, but also Mala.
The rock: Mala Srinivasan
"We don't think negatively at all. We enjoy life, we celebrate living each day. Right from the start, TE said that he was going to fight. We enjoy every minute and don't look beyond," says Mala.
His first visit to Tata Memorial made him realise that he was more fortunate than others. They saw patients from babies to grown-ups and teenagers in between battling brain tumour. It brought about a profound sense of realisation. "When I saw those kids, I thought to myself: At least I've lived for more than 50 years," says Srinivasan.
The couple wants to start a cancer foundation. They don't have the huge resources to go big, but realise the importance of a beginning and support from all quarters.
Srinivasan's second surgery in October 2007 did not materialise into improvement; only their darkest hour. Ever emphasising the need to be positive and look ahead, the recent past is still unforgettable for Mala. "There was a time when he could not utter a word. I don't know if he could even recognise me," she recalls.
"Changes in the brain were bang on the area of speech and right leg," says Dr Jalali, adding that his patient has, "clearly done well." since.
It would be fair to say that the implementation of 'current medical therapies' alongwith chemotherapy brought about a miraculous change in Srinivasan's condition. But as Dr Jalali stresses, the indomitable spirit of TE and Mala has been critical in his recovery.
While most of his treatment is done by Tata Memorial, the Apollo Hospital in Chennai is visited too and a doctor in America where his daughter Shubha is based, is also involved with the case. Srinivasan is fortunate to have a lot of people working towards his well-being including his fans, well wishers and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, who are contributing substantially towards his medical expenses. "Hat's off to Sharad Pawar," Srinivasan says. And, of course, Mala.
Lance Armstrong, who battled testicular cancer, is also on that list. Srinivasan has read two of the legendary cyclist's books and is not surprised with the news of his comeback. Shubha's words, 'Dad, you can be like Lance Armstrong,' is not lost on him.
Mala says: "When TE was first diagnosed (with brain tumour), I just broke down. But he was pacifying me by saying, 'I am not going to give up. I'm going to fight this.' After some days I realised that if this is his attitude, what am I crying for? He is an inspiration to me. He is an example of how you should lead your life - you don't have to go to a Zen master," says Mala.
Srinivasan is a stand-out case just like he was when Mala first saw him waltz away to a century for a Tamil Nadu against Karnataka in a Ranji game in Chennai during the late 1970s. Soon Srinivasan was a recipient of a fan mail from Mala. He responded, they fell in love, tied the knot and now are living up to the line which others find easier said than done... "in sickness and health."
Useful link: http://www.braintumourindia.com/
|Keep up the fight TE, say Sunny, Sandy|
|SUNIL Gavaskar (TE Srinivasan's captain on the tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1980-81) has visited the cancer-afflicted cricketer and always had encouraging words. 'When Sunil came last, he told me, "don't be silly. You will pull through," informed Srinivasan. |
Gavaskar told MiD DAY: "I did call on him a few times when he was in Mumbai for treatment. He is a fighter and should continue fighting. His sense of humour is unique so I am sure he will be there with a smile on his face."
Sandeep Patil, who shared a room with Srinivasan on the 1980-81 tour Down Under, said he was delighted to learn that his former teammate was making progress and fighting his illness. "TE is a fighter and he must continue doing so. I wish him all the best and a complete recovery."