OSLO | "Max, just being here today, it's important that you're grateful for life. "
Jean-François Ménard shares this remark he made to Maxence Parrot in the run-up to the X Games in Oslo. While this athlete's body successfully battled cancer, his sports psychologist watched over his morale. For this specialist who has been working for five years with the snowboarder from Bromont, it was fitting to accompany him to Norway for his return to competition.
" I cried "
This happy-ending story tells us that Ménard became one of Parrot's allies in his victory against Hodgkin's lymphoma. On several occasions, he had to maneuver between the emotional bond developed between them and his professional work.
"When I learned that he had cancer, I cried," says the psychologist, who describes himself more like a "performance coach".
But soon after the diagnosis had fallen, the two men went to work. Until last week's snow camp in Switzerland, Ménard had to deal with the personality of a client known for his hard work.
"It was necessary to manage one's fear, to see the future in the short term, to work with one's situation and not against it. He had to accept to undergo these treatments, even when you went to the sixth or eighth and you weaken all the time. It meant he had to get away from his sport, and there is nothing worse for an athlete. These people identify themselves so much through their training and competition, so the level of self-esteem is different from the average person, "the therapist observes.
Contain his euphoria
In his first experience in a cancer situation, Ménard finally discovered that the tactics were not different from those with any other athlete: adopt a good attitude, manage stress well, take things one at a time.
On a few occasions, like when he came back on the snow last week, the "psy" had to insist on his client in anticipation of these X Games by using the argument that "during your chemotherapy, I do not know not how many times you told me that you came here to win, "menard mentions.
"A lot of my work in the last few weeks has been bringing him back to earth. I just take the lead when he's back on the snow. He was so happy that he almost forgot that this competition was coming. He was jumping in the snow that he is not used to doing. I had to tell him: "It's beautiful Max, I understand that you have fun, but you have a job to do and you have to prepare to come here. You'll have time to play in parks this fall, "he says, amusing himself almost with the anecdote.
A machine !
After the challenge against the disease, we will see today if Maxence Parrot wins that of winning the X Games. Jean-François Ménard will not comment on his chances of success. It's useless for him to do it. By closely following him for eight months, he already knows his value.
"There was no guarantee that he was going to recover from his treatments. There are some who can take more than a year to regain energy. He, two weeks later, he resumed training. This guy is a machine! "