Max Parrot, Olympic silver medallist in snowboard slopestyle at PyeongChang 2018, will be away from competitive slopes for the rest of the season while he undergoes treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma.
Parrot made the announcement in Montreal on Thursday, revealing that he was diagnosed with the relatively rare form of cancer on December 21 after undergoing a biopsy 10 days earlier. The 24-year-old had first noticed symptoms in September when he started scratching his skin repeatedly. In November, he realized he had a bump on his neck and a swollen gland that prompted a visit to his family doctor.
“It was tough to hear the news, and it’s still hard now. But at first, the most difficult for me was to realize that I would have to put an end to my season,” Parrot said in a press release. He hadn’t missed a competition in seven years until the high-profile Dew Tour in mid-December which coincided with his biopsy.
“And it won’t be easy to stay at home these upcoming months because I’m used to travelling at this time of year. But I have a new type of challenge to take on, this is a new kind of competition I must face, and I intend to do everything I can to win,” Parrot said.
According to Lymphoma Canada, Hodgkin lymphoma accounts for about 0.5% of all cancers and 15% of all lymphomas diagnosed. Approximately 900 people in Canada are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma each year,
Parrot underwent his first chemotherapy session last Thursday and has 11 more to go on a bi-weekly basis. If all goes well, he hopes to be finished in June.
“The word ‘cancer’ is scary, as is the treatment that comes with it. But I have great people around me,” Parrot said. “I have a lot of real positive energy with my family and friends. My sponsors are also supporting me in this. I have an awesome medical team and I have all the confidence in the world in the work they are doing. My sports psychologist and my coach also help me make sure that my morale is good, so that I can fight this as best I can.”
On the good news front, Parrot will not be overly restricted in his physical activity.
“Of course, I can’t go out and risk a serious injury, so no triple corks for me, but I will be able to ride my snowboard. That’s a good thing, because the more I will be physically active, the better I will be able to recover after my chemotherapy sessions.”
Lymphoma Canada notes that the diagnosis and treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma has improved so much in recent years that it has a high survival rate. Some may recall that hockey player Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with early-stage Hodgkin lymphoma in January 1993 and after about a month of radiation treatments was back playing in the NHL in early March. He ended the season as the league’s leading scorer and MVP.
Earlier this week, Parrot was not named to Canada Snowboard’s team for the FIS Snowboard World Championships which will take place in early February. He will also miss the Winter X Games in Aspen at the end of this month where he is the three-time defending champion in big air and has won five gold medals in his career. Over the last few years, Parrot has stood alongside Mark McMorris, Sébastien Toutant, Darcy Sharpe and Mikey Ciccarelli as Canadians who dominate men’s slopestyle and big air snowboard.
Parrot has prided himself on being a history-maker and innovator in his sport. The first snowboarder to perform multiple new tricks in competition, he has always pushed the limits of what is possible.
We wish him all the best as he takes on this new fight.