Alanah Eriksen

Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's property reporter, and assistant chief reporter.

Cricket legend faces greatest test

Martin Crowe learned he had deadly blood cancer in a hands-free call while his young daughter was in the car.

Martin Crowe says his wife, Lorraine Downes, is an amazing woman who has stayed positive and helped him through all of his chemotherapy treatments. Photo / APN
Martin Crowe says his wife, Lorraine Downes, is an amazing woman who has stayed positive and helped him through all of his chemotherapy treatments. Photo / APN

Former New Zealand cricket captain Martin Crowe has opened up about his battle with cancer as his friends in the sporting world praise him for his bravery.

In a new interview, the 50-year-old tells how his wife, former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes, is helping him through.

"She's the love of my life," Crowe told the New Zealand Woman's Weekly. "I don't know how I could have got through this without her. She sat through every single one of my chemotherapy sessions and has been with me every step of the way, and remained positive. Lorraine is an amazing woman."

Crowe had just started writing his memoirs in October when he was diagnosed with the lymphoma.

He had been made redundant from his job as an executive producer at Sky Television and said he was thinking more about what he would do with his future than worrying about two lumps on his neck.

His doctor broke the news on a hands-free call while he was in the car with 9-year-old daughter Emma, who heard the whole conversation.

He raced home and researched the disease. "When you read that you have a deadly blood cancer, your life kind of flashes before you," he told the Woman's Weekly.

"Then Lorraine walked up the stairs and I burst into tears. I couldn't speak ... For the next couple of hours we held each other and cried."

Crowe was initially told the cancer cells were not multiplying, meaning he did not need treatment, but doctors monitored him regularly.

By Christmas, he started having stomach pains, which were so bad he couldn't stand up straight. Tests revealed he had a tumour the size of an egg in his abdomen.

He needed chemotherapy and will next week have a scan to see if the treatment has shrunk the tumour.

Crowe, who represented New Zealand from 1982 until his retirement in 1996, is now regaining energy and appetite and plans on returning to paid employment this year.

Former All Black Grant Fox, who has been friends with Crowe for 37 years, told the Herald he had visited him throughout the battle.

"I just think it's incredible how he's coped. We've been good mates for a long, long time, but we don't have a lot of contact at times because we're busy doing our own thing.

"And then all of a sudden something like this comes along and all of a sudden it's like, 'Why didn't we find this time before?"'

Fox said Crowe was brave to be able to talk about his depression.

"Marty's an emotional bloke ... wears his heart on his sleeve. He's always been willing to talk about the emotional side of sport.

"And now, he's been through something ... which has led him to open up on life's other emotions, which is a very brave thing to do."

The pair met aged 13 at Auckland Grammar School.

Former teammate Dion Nash said Crowe's ability to share his emotions would help him through.

"It's a hard one to watch a mate battle through it but he's a strong guy and if anyone can come through it, it'll be Marty.

"Having played with him, what made him special was his mental ability to put himself beyond the normal human being."

Read Martin Crowe's full story in this week's edition of the New Zealand Woman's Weekly

Martin Crowe

*Age: 50.
*Born in Henderson and attended Auckland Grammar School.
*Married former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes in 2009.
*Has one daughter, Emma, 9, from a previous relationship.
*Represented four domestic cricket teams in his career - Auckland, Central Districts, Somerset and Wellington.
*Made test debut for the Black Caps in 1982 and retired from international cricket in 1996, after playing 77 tests.
*Captained the team in the early 1990s.
*Board member of the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League Football Club and former member of the Marylebone Cricket Club's cricket committee - a think-tank looking at cricket issues.
*Former chief cricket officer of Royal Challengers Bangalore, a team in the Indian Premier League.
*Worked as an executive producer for Sky.
*Made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1992 for services to cricket.

- NZ Herald

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