| SERVICE: The Missionaries of Charity prays for Leander Paes, diagnosed early on Wednesday with a brain lesion, at its prayer room, which the tennis champion visits each time he is home. Picture by Amit Datta
The medical fraternity that had woken up on Wednesday to the news of the sporting hero from Beckbagan being admitted to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Orlando, heaved a sigh of relief before the day was done.
The fact that Leander Paes had been diagnosed with a cyst in the brain, and not a tumour, was reason enough for relief.
The condition of the tennis star, currently recuperating after severe bouts of headache at the leading medical centre in the United States, was definitely not as bad as one had feared, said doctors who were closely following every medical bulletin.
Milind Deogaokar, head of department of the National Neurosciences Centre at Peerless Hospital, said Leander’s health should be monitored closely for over a year. But if things go according to plan, he could be back on the tennis court in no more than five weeks, Deogaokar added.
“Since he suffered severe bouts of headache for three days, it is clear that the level of infection is very high,” observed Deogaokar on Wednesday. He is in constant touch with doctor friends at Orlando.
“It could still be a localised form of tuberculosis in the left posterior of the head, but only specific tests will reveal the exact condition,” he added, explaining that this was “quite common” in India. “They (the tests) will also throw light on the possible reasons for the formation of the cyst.”
Another city-based neurosurgeon, Rahul De, said the four-mm cyst, as specified by father Vece Paes, could well be the result of foodstuff Leander had eaten during his hectic tour schedule.
“This could have happened anywhere,” said De. “But since it is not a tumour, Leander, his family and millions of fans have no reason to panic… I also hear that he is in a cheerful mood.”
Till news of the cyst, known as “a space-occupying lesion”, came in on Wednesday evening, doctors in the city were warning that Leander could be suffering from a tumour, neurocysticercosis, or tuberculosis of the brain.
There was also concern over Leander’s eyesight, one of his main weapons as a doubles champion. A good eye and quick hands at the net figure high in Leander’s on-court strengths.
The fact that the optic nerves connecting the visual cortex were situated in the “occipital region of the brain (which controls the eyesight)” was the basis of their fears.
“There seemed to be a distinct possibility that Leander could experience eye problems,” said neurosurgeon Ajay Agarwal. “While those fears seem unfounded, a thorough probe needs to be conducted, as Leander did not suffer convulsions that are normally caused by a cyst in the brain.”