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Athlete of the Month September 2023 - Jason Marchand

Athlete of the Month September 2023 - Jason Marchand

Jason is a local hero to us at Blonyx. He has dedicated his life to helping kids not only as a local pediatric nurse, but globally, spending time in war torn countries helping the most vulnerable children on the planet. 

Jason trains and competes in his sports as a way of keeping himself healthy and mentally able to cope with the stresses of working with sick children - “Working in a critical care environment, an intense environment, like an intensive care unit, if you don't have those coping strategies in place, you're kind of at risk for setting yourself up for real heartbreak, burnout.” 

One day, Jason got some news that threatened to put an end to his training and his career… 

“I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2016. Luckily, it was caught in time and removed.  Following that diagnosis, I had to see a dermatologist every two years. And it was actually her who noticed one day after a checkup that I was really struggling to put my socks on. And she asked, what's going on with your leg or your hip? I said, oh, it's just a result of not stretching enough and just not working on mobility. She referred me for x-rays just because she wanted to be diligent.” 

The x-rays came back showing severe bilateral osteoarthritis - something that people don’t usually experience until they’re in their 70s.

Jason was referred to two surgeons - both said that he was too young for a hip replacement and that he should wait 10 years. This would mean that the majority of his 30s and 40s would be spent in chronic pain - “When I heard that I was going to be unable to do what I love doing, I got anxious and I wasn't sure how I was going to cope with not just stressors from work, but just everyday stressors and mental health. It was really distressing.”

Working in an intensive care unit, it's not uncommon to empathize with your patients and their families and what they're going through, even though by no means do I have any comprehension of what it's actually like to go through what they're going through. But you do unavoidably take a little bit of that home with you every now and then. And athletics and fitness have always been my coping strategy.”

Jason dedicated his life to helping others, but this time it was about him getting better so he could be there for others. His friend, who worked in the surgical department at UBC recommended that he ask for a third opinion. Within six months he was going for the left hip replacement and then six months later, the right hip replacement.

“Since having my hips replaced I have a new lease on my mental health. I'm able to do the things that I not only love but also that keep me from burning out in an industry that is physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing.” 

Getting those major procedures done was just the first step. Luckily Jason had a great team of allied health - physiotherapy, massage therapy as well as his coaches at CrossFit 604 and friends. Solid nutrition and supplementation plan was another key element - “Going into these major surgeries, I knew that muscle atrophy was going to be a challenge when I'm bed bound for days at a time. I made really good use of HMB just in an attempt to preserve the muscle that I had. I made some adjustments in my nutrition - I almost doubled my protein intake and I decreased my fats and carbohydrates, knowing that I wasn't going to be as active. The supplementing with egg white protein powder and trying to combat muscle atrophy with HMB made a big difference.”

The results were astonishing - within 3 weeks Jason was back at the gym doing his physio exercises. Within 4 weeks he was back at work. And within 6 months he was hitting new PRs on squat, deadlift and snatch. 

He’s been pushing his limits outside of the CrossFit gym too. Since 2019 he’s been pursuing overseas volunteer opportunities with an organization that performs cardiac defect surgeries on pediatric patients. He did his first trip with them to Iraq in 2019. Then Libya in 2020 and Ukraine in 2021. This year, he’s heading to Congo - “It's been a really great experience in terms of community building, because you go and you collaborate with these healthcare professionals. And although you speak very different languages, the language of caring is still there, and the community is still there, and you're still working towards the same goals.”

“It was my athletic ambition that fed my recovery. I knew that my life would change without the ability to live my active lifestyle, and not for the better. There was no other option in my mind.  I need to be active for my mental health, otherwise I'd have nothing to offer the kids and families of BC that I care for. With my team of clinicians and coaches, thoughtful nutrition, and well-researched supplementation, I've been able to get back to the lifestyle that keeps me grounded and ensures that I'm able to pour from a full jug.”