Benvingut, Eric Abidal!

During a brief interview with TF1, Eric Abidal talked about his return. During that interview, he in fact confirmed that his tumor was cancer.

As a brief fill-in, you can have a tumor and not necessarily have cancer. It is only when a tumor becomes malignant that it is determined that you have cancer. Patients and doctors (but not all of the public, and certainly not journalists) are very aware of the difference.

Here are a few quotes from the video:

“Fighting cancer was my own Champions League. It wasn’t easy, especially for my family.”
“The first thing you think about when hearing the news is your family, your children. You don’t want to leave them behind.”
“Nothing should change …. I have a wonderful family and friends. I play at the best club of the world, with the best fans.”

When the ovation that greeted Abidal as he ran onto the Camp Nou pitch against EE occurred, it was probably pretty much impossible for any cule to get through it dry-eyed. I sure didn’t. It was as pure a human moment as could possibly be witnessed, because it wasn’t “Yay, our left back has returned!” It was “Here’s a human being who has gone toe-to-toe with something that destroys, that kills. And he’s back. Wow.”

Let’s not kid around here: Athletics has many people who have battled cancer. The most famous is cyclist Lance Armstrong who, irrespective of what you feel about his on-bike exploits and whether or not he’s a doper, has gone far and done much with his survivor status.

And perhaps what makes athletes beating cancer so much more amazing is that cancer is, simply put, the body betraying itself. One cell goes rogue, takes a bunch with it and suddenly you have a foreign invader, a malignancy where before you just had a working athlete’s body. Somehow, when an athlete performing at the highest level has cancer, it seems more poignant. This isn’t really fair, I think, because when anybody does what Abidal did, it’s incredible.

Because beating cancer isn’t just a one-person battle. It’s a medical team, family, friends and a belief that survival will happen. So many of us, in our own lives, have someone who has either succumbed to, or had a brush with cancer. I lost a dear friend to brain cancer, and had lunch on Friday with a wonderful, wonderful art critic who writes for me, and has become a friend. She beat it, and there we were at lunch, (as she called us because we were both bald) White Ball and Black Ball. It was awesome and yes, I thought of Eric Abidal and said to myself, “Up yours, cancer. You didn’t get these two.”

Just as he plays the game, Eric Abidal handled the cancer battle with grace and style. He nor the club exploited it, didn’t beg for sympathy or parade it around. When the surgery occurred, nobody knew except the involved parties that the tumor was malignant. And we still didn’t really know until the TF1 piece, though the reactions by some of his teammates, and the Champions League human trampoline might have given us a clue.

Over on Bleacher Report, Greg Lott had a wonderful column, the headline of which was:

Barcelona’s Eric Abidal: The True Winner of the Champions League Final in 2011

It’s a wonderful, wonderful read because it’s direct, soul-searching and heartfelt, like so much good writing. It’s definitely worth your time and attention. I’ll leave you with the last line:

On the 28th of May, therefore, it doesn’t really matter if it is Barcelona or Manchester United who lift the coveted Champions League trophy. The true winner will be Eric Abidal. Some things are just more important than football.


By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. If the tumour was malignant, shouldn’t he have had radiation or chemo? It is absolutely amazing that he has recovered so fast. I can only guess that they caught it at such an early stage that there was no need for further treatment.

    After all the madness of the 4 Clasicos, it is good to reflect on what is really important. So glad he is back.

    1. I confess to being confused by that as well, but I don’t think that radiation/chemo is always part of a treatment program if the malignancy is caught early enough. From what I know/have experienced, R/C is an attempt to kill the cancer before surgery is considered as an option, or if things have progressed to the point where surgery might be risky, and killing the tumor with poison is worth a shot.

    2. From a friend who signs of a what could be malignant tumors, the cancer is just situated in the tumor once the tumor is removed then the cancerous cells go with it and obviously they just watch for it making sure nothing remained. Also there is new treatments that use the body’s own immune system to fight it from within chemo and radiation was no longer the only options. but again, it doesnt matter
      I’m also very glad he is back.

    3. I believe he only have a benign tumor that’s why he did not undergo any chemo/ radiation. The tumor was simply removed. No other lymph changes/ build-up or tumor spread was found on other parts of his body.

      It’s really fortunate that Abi has the best support he had. Cancer may not be curable but it is treatable. And the best treatment is the support from your loved ones. That alone can significantly improve one’s condition.

  2. Wow. Just as I was beginning to feel foolish for buying so heavily into the Mes Que Un Club ethos, I read this news. All the gamesmanship and ugliness and doubt had me feeling so cynical that I actually thought perhaps the reason we never learned the biopsy results was because the tumor was benign, and the club wanted to milk the sympathy a little longer.

    The fact that the exact opposite turned out to be true says something very important about this club. The fact that the team, coaches, and staff were coping with this knowledge throughout the entire Clasico ordeal puts a slightly different spin on things, doesn’t it?

    If millions of strangers experienced the lows and highs of Abi’s battle in such an emotional way, just imagine what his friends and teammates were going through—all while participating in one of the most intense, historic series of matches of all time. And while we were kept out of the loop, something tells me that Mourinho and EE would have known what we didn’t, which makes everything they did that much more despicable.

    So I’m going to cut our boys—and our club—a little slack for their recent behavior. Because I, for one, could not have done what they did in the face of such a crisis.

    So Benvingut Abi indeed. And benvingut faith.

    …and–oh yeah–benvingut Kxevin!

  3. I have to say this year alone I’ve witnessed two “bring on the tears” moments… LIVE !
    1. When Iniesta was given an ovation at Cornella-El Prat by the Pericos, all applauding and yelling “Gracias Iniesta”. It was an immense feeling that football goes beyond the pitch. We were winning 0-5 at their house, so it was a huge moment remembering Dani Jarque thanks to our player.

    2. Abidal’s come back. Watching Him and Puyol hug at the moment he entered the pitch was huge. He said he’d be back at Wembley after playing with the French team and I’m glad he made.

    Also very glad he’ll be with us til 2014 and maybe more.

    1. I agree with these “bring on tears moment” of yours, Stephen.

      It was stunning to see everyone who were booing and cursing us, suddenly stand and applaud and genuinely cheer for Iniesta.

      And of course – the reception for Abi was immense. I hope the thunderous welcome from a hundred thousand fans chased away all disease and illness plaguing Abi.

    2. Another moment I really liked was Madrid and Lyon players going against the UEFA decree to wear Anims Abidal shirts.

      It’s a pity really to see all the morbo ruin the clasicos after that very nice gesture.

    3. Still the moment is kept and appreciate it. Most of the Madrid players did say something either to the press or on their twitter about him, so that just shows some humanity and that they know he’s not just a barça player but also a human being.

  4. I just thank the Lord he’s well and healthy again.

    It’s a bonus he’s match fit so quickly.

    Yay to Abi!!! Benvingut Kxevin 😀

  5. i was actually cried when he stepped on the pitch that time…
    and i also gave him an ovation from my living room…that was such a joy-filled moment.

  6. A tumour is any unanatural growth in the body. The growth is usually limited in the sense that human body cells can multiply only at specified rate. But when the tumour becomes malignant there are structural changes in the corresponding cells which ensure that the cells start multiplying at a bizarre rate which means that the growth spirals out of control. Another major problem is that these structural changes to the cells will not not be confined to the body part but actually spread to other regions meaning that uncontrolled growth will start happening in other parts. In Abidal’s case the growth which was malignant was removed and it has not spread to the other body parts and hence he is safe. I am very happy for him as usually it is touch and go. He has been treated at the right time and all is well that ends well.

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