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Skydive initiative helps French cancer patients ‘jump into life’

Tia Chaumeret, who launched the scheme aged just 16, says participants find it liberating and a moment when they leave their illness behind

To date, the association has helped 50 cancer patients to parachute jump Pic: Maladie en chute libre

Parachute jumps can be “liberating” for people with cancer, says the founder of a French association that helps fund and organise them.

Tia Chaumeret created Maladie en chute libre (‘Illness in free fall’) in 2017 when she was just 16.

Since then, some 50 people with cancer have jumped with the association.

‘I cry every time’

“People say it is liberating, that they leave all their troubles behind and feel like they are jumping into life,” she said.

“For them, it marks the end of one thing and the beginning of another: they are no longer fighting against an illness but fighting to live.

“That is really magic. I cry every time.”

Inspired by a family friend

The association funds 90% of the cost of a jump for people with cancer or in remission.

The idea was inspired by Ms Chaumeret’s own love of parachute jumping and a desire to help a family friend.

She said the change in people who do the jumps is huge.

“We even have people wanting to continue after that first jump, to become parachutists or to do their training.” 

Plans to expand

The ultimate aim is to open up the scheme to people with other illnesses or disabilities. 

In the short term, however, she is focusing on expanding it in France.

“We currently have three places, in Lyon and at Bouloc-en-Quercy (north of Toulouse) and, since early October, in Grenoble. 

“It is gradually growing.”

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