Given the all-clear after cancer treatment, Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot is pushing himself hard in training to compete in an X Games big air event next month.
The Olympic silver medalist in slopestyle in 2018 and five-time X Games champion was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma on Dec. 21, 2018. The cancer affects white blood cells in the lymphatic system.
Parrot says he’s been training six days a week since a scan at Sherbrooke University Hospital Centre on July 8 determined he was free of cancer cells.
“I definitely think I may be going too fast into it, but this is how I am,” Parrot told The Canadian Press in a phone interview Wednesday. “This is how I’ve done everything. This is how I got to be a pro snowboarder.
“I’ve beaten cancer, but my body is not back to normal yet. I feel like I’m getting back my muscles and my cardio and my energy, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
The 25-year-old from Bromont, Que., plans to be back on snow in Switzerland in mid-August in preparation for X Games in Oslo, Norway, on Aug. 31.
“Snowboarding has gone away for the past six months,” Parrot said. “It was hard for me not to be able to snowboard like I used to.”
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“I got the news there would an X Games in Norway when I was in mid-chemo, three months in, and it became my motivation to beat cancer and to be back in full force. Normally our season starts in November. I felt it was an opportunity for me to get back on track really quick and not miss such a long time without snowboarding.”
Parrot last competed Nov. 24, 2018, when he placed eighth at a big air World Cup in Beijing.
He’d noticed a bump on his neck and consulted a doctor upon his return to Canada.
Parrot underwent his 12th and final round of chemotherapy in mid-June.
He knew his chances of beating the disease were good, but was anxious when he went for the scan the following month.
“Of course I was confident, but I was definitely for sure nervous because I was getting really tired of the treatments and I really, really wishing everything was good and I could move on,” Parrot explained.
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He’s back in the gym rebuilding his muscles. He’s playing tennis to increase his cardiovascular fitness. He works on jumps and flips on the trampoline and an air bag landing pad.
“Every day after training, I do feel very, very tired and I have long nights of sleeping,” he said. “I might still have some chemo still in my body.”
“My goal is to go to bed and tell myself I’ve done something to get better. Since July eighth, it has happened every day.”
Hodgkin lymphoma is most often seen in people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Former Pittsburgh Penguins star Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with the disease in 1993 and returned to play later that season.
Parrot made his World Snowboard Tour in 2011 debut at age 16. He claimed the tour’s big air overall title three years later.
He was the first snowboarder to land a double backside rodeo — jumping backwards and spinning clockwise four times while reverse flipping twice — in 2016.
Parrot won big air gold at X Games Aspen three consecutive years from 2016 to 2018, but wasn’t able to compete there this year.
He’s anxious to prove he’s still among the best in the world, and will get that chance in Oslo.
“I do imagine it quite often these days and can’t wait to be up there, dropping in and starting the contest,” Parrot said.