Player's Own Voice

Player's Own Voice podcast: John Smythe says 'don't apologize'

The Player's Own Voice podcast visits with John Smythe, Canadian field hockey player and Crohn's disease sufferer.

Canadian field hockey player keeping Crohn's disease in check

Canada's John Smythe challenges Mexico's Luis Villegas during a men's field hockey game at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, on July 30, 2019. (Moises Castillo/The Associated Press)

John Smythe has a harrowing story to tell. The Canadian National field hockey player was emerging as a young contender when he developed a series of mysterious and painful symptoms — as he says — from gums to bum. Inflammation, extreme gut trouble ensued.

Crohn's disease is not a straightforward diagnosis to make and it is not an easy disease to live with. For a high-performance athlete, it's even more of a challenge. The physical stress of an intense workout all by itself can be enough to trigger flare-ups.

But after multiple surgeries and ultimately four years away from the sport, Smythe's recuperation is lasting, and he has built the ability to quickly recognize symptoms and triggers. Crohn's is chronic, but Smythe has kept it in remission, to the extent that he's gearing up fully for the Canadian men's competition in the Tokyo Olympics.

Smythe leads Player's Own Voice Podcast host Anastasia Bucsis through the long and dramatic medical ordeal that has brought him to his current state of health.

Like the CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective.  To listen to John Smythe and earlier guests this season, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts.


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