BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE Cricket star Sikandar Raza has opened up on going through sleepless nights and playing through pain during Zimbabwe’s recent series against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi as well as recently undergoing an emergency biopsy after the discovery of a tumour in his arm.
The all-rounder opened up for the first time to NewsDay Weekender Sport on the events that saw him make the big sacrifice to go and play for his country despite the sometimes excruciating pain, how team doctors worked on him round the clock and how Zimbabwe Cricket has been running around to make sure he gets the best care.
He credited the sterling behind-the-scenes work done by well respected national team physiotherapist Travor Wambe to ensure he played in two Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals against Afghanistan until he came back home and ended up on a hospital bed for the biopsy.
An internet definition suggests that: “A biopsy is a medical test commonly performed by a surgeon, interventional radiologist, or an interventional cardiologist. The process involves extraction of sample cells or tissues for examination to determine the presence or extent of a disease.”
According to health.com: “Biopsies are typically associated with cancer, but just because your doctor orders a biopsy, it doesn’t mean that you have cancer. Doctors use biopsies to test whether abnormalities in your body are caused by cancer or by other conditions.”
Realising the importance of his presence in the team due to the absence of several experienced players, Raza made the brave decision to feature in the important series despite feeling pain in his right arm in the lead up to the tour.
With senior players such as Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Chamu Chibhabha, Kyle Jarvis and Tendai Chatara all absent, Raza was desperate to play as he was one of the few senior players in the side along with skipper Sean Williams.
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The 34-year-old middle order batsman and right arm off spinner, however, had to endure sleepless nights and late night sessions in the treatment room from the team physio on what was presumed an injured shoulder at the time to ensure he would play the following morning.
“Pain started just before we left for the series against Afghanistan in the Northerns versus Southerns game and we thought it’s just muscular,” revealed Raza in an exclusive interview with NewsDay Weekender Sport yesterday.
“Then from the first training session to the last game it just got worse and worse to the extent that during test matches I would stay awake all night and play the following day in pain and without any sleep. Myself and Sean were the only senior guys out there on the tour so it was important for me stay on the park.
“Doc (Wambe) would treat me all night unless I feel better, but it was just for few hours and back to same pain. In all this Doc (Wambe) was a real hero. He would treat me for as long as it was needed for me to be better. He would treat me as last patient so that he could give me all the time that I needed.”
Last Friday, Raza underwent a biopsy on the right arm after the medical team then found out a growth in his bone which he fears could be a tumour or some sort of cancer.
He could be set for a lengthy lay-off, with results expected in 10 days, which makes him doubtful for the incoming tour by Pakistan which starts later this month.
“When we came back and did an ultrasound scan, it revealed no muscular injury and that got us worried as we treated it for weeks as such. Then we went for MRI and it showed some scary pictures on my shoulder and bicep bone. That triggered an emergency and biopsy was suggested by Dr (Raphael) Makota. We had opinions from Pakistan, Scotland and England and they all suggested the same in case it was a tumour or some sort of cancer,” Raza said.
“Surgery was performed urgently and that has gone well. They drilled my bone for a tissue sample that has been sent to the lab for testing and it will require 10 days. So we all pray for safe result. Only the biopsy report will tell how long am out for.”
He says he was grateful to the efforts made by the Zimbabwe Cricket leadership, headed by board chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani and managing director Givemore Makoni to ensure he received the best treatment.
“As soon as MD Givemore Makoni found out, he made calls and ran around to make sure am happy with everything and the best doctor was available for the surgery. He also ensured if I have to go overseas, he would speak to other boards in order to make sure I am treated by the best surgeon and stuff. He messaged everyday to find out how I am. Even the chairman messaged few times and asked how I am and if I need anything more from him as an individual and as an organisation,” the all-rounder said.
Raza first shared the news of the biopsy on his social media and has received a lot of support from home and abroad.
His anxious wait should come to an end next week where the results are expected.Follow Daniel on Twitter @danielnhakaniso