It is easy to look at the Crohn's disease and think first and foremost about the things it will prevent you from doing in your life. The truth is that, though Crohn’s disease is a very serious condition, with proper management it need never hold anyone back from anything. Just ask retired NHL superstar Theo Fleury.

Overcoming obstacles to success

Fleury was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1995, at age 27, after six seasons with the Calgary Flames. Rather than letting the disease end his NHL career, Fleury went on to become the captain of the Flames and to win a gold medal playing for Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. “I never really thought of it as a disease,” Fleury says. “I just had this attitude where, like anything else in my life, it was just another obstacle I had to overcome.”

 “You have to be patient…there is a trial and error process until you find what works for you and your body.”

Outside of the world of hockey, Theo’s accomplishments are just as remarkable. His philanthropic work includes helping to raise funds for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada in Calgary. “The reason I got involved with the Foundation in Calgary,” Theo says, “is that they have a research lab at the University of Calgary and every single dollar we raised went directly to research. That’s a rarity when it comes to raising funds. They do as cutting edge of research here in Calgary as anywhere in the world.”

He has also recently followed up a bestselling autobiography ‘Playing with Fire’ with a new book entitled ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake.’ Known as an unstoppable ball of lightning on the ice, he has proven to be just as indomitable with skates off.

Finding the right treatment for you

Crohn’s disease is a complex gastrointestinal disorder that manifests in many ways, including severe abdominal pains, diarrhea, as well as affecting organs outside the gut, ulcers, rashes, and depression. It has its challenges, Fleury acknowledges, but it’s all about finding the right treatment regimen for you to manage the disease.

While most Crohn’s disease sufferers require lifelong medical therapy, Theo is part of the 20 percent of patients who have a very mild version of the disease that can be managed conservatively.

It’s well known that there is a correlation between stress and Crohn’s disease flare-ups. That’s why, Theo’s two biggest pieces of advice for those newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease are to keep stress levels down and to not get frustrated if progress is slow.
“You have to be patient,” Fleury says, “because there is a trial and error process until you find what works for you and your body.”