Nepali footballer Lama Kumar, 20, could not catch most of the Euro Cup matches last week.
He was recuperating at Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, after undergoing a surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from his femur.
Kumar was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer six months ago and lived in the fear that he would lose his leg as several doctors in his country said that amputation was the only option.
However, after a surgery in Mumbai, Kumar is now able to walk with the help of a stick and hopes to be back on the football field in less than year.
"Playing is important to me and I was very worried. Thankfully, we got the treatment done in time," said Kumar, speaking from Nepal. The tumour was removed and the affected bone was replaced after radiation and he still has to undergo chemotherapy.
"It was a rare cancer that affects growing children and saving their limbs is crucial. An amputation may save their them, but it has a permanent impact on their lives," said Dr Manish Agarwal, onco-orthopedic surgeon at Hinduja Hospital. "If treated in time, patients can do all kinds of activities – dancing, playing, writing."
Doctors said early detection and timely surgery could help prevent amputation in cases of bone cancer, which normally affects growing children between 13 and 20 years. These malignant bone tumours account for 1% of all cancers and It affects one in a lakh people worldwide.
In 2010, Gautam Gauba, 16, was detected with a swelling and pain in his right arm. After treating it with painkillers and calcium supplements, the Class 10 student, living in a hostel in Bhayander, was diagnosed with a malignant tumour last year. However, timely surgery and six cycles of chemotherapy later, Gauba took his board exams and got 93.2%.
"Last year was very hard for him and the family, but he has recovered well," said his mother Jyoti Gauba, a Malad resident, who takes him for a check-up every three months.