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Young man is diagnosed with crohn’s disease after battling cancer twice in seven years

After battling testicular cancer and bowel cancer in his 20s, Army Captain Hugo Toovey has been firmly focused on getting his health back on track.

But in April 2022, he received another shocking health blow when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Doctors believe the most recent prognosis was probably related to bowel cancer at age 26.

The Sydney man, now 30, told Daily Mail Australia that it is difficult to determine if the most recent prognosis was lost earlier in life as he suffered from intestinal problems during his childhood.

“I have had intestinal problems almost all my life, but as a child I was never officially diagnosed with an intestinal disease,” Hugo said, adding that his symptoms continued into adulthood.

Sydney Army Captain Hugo Toovey (pictured) battled testicular cancer at 21 and then bowel cancer at 26. Now, at 30, he's been diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Sydney Army Captain Hugo Toovey (pictured) battled testicular cancer at 21 and then bowel cancer at 26. Now, at 30, he’s been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Doctors believe the most recent prognosis was probably related to the bowel cancer he had, but Hugo wondered if he experienced signs of the disease earlier in his life.

Doctors believe the most recent prognosis was probably related to the bowel cancer he had, but Hugo wondered if he experienced signs of the disease earlier in his life. “I’ve had bowel problems most of my life, but when I was a kid, doctors were never really sure if I had Crohn’s disease,” he said.

For as long as he can remember, Hugo has dealt with ongoing intestinal problems and has seen doctors regularly.

“After being diagnosed recently, I started looking at the big picture and tracking it down,” he said.

The prognosis was shocking as Hugo had his large intestine and rectum removed in 2018. due to bowel cancer.

He also had to live with an exposed ileostomy bag for six months and then had another surgery to create an internal ‘J-pouch’ to act as a large intestine continuing from the small intestine, which has now been removed.

Hugo described the condition as an “invisible disease” that can feel “debilitating” but aims to stay positive.

‘I try to put everything in perspective and compare myself with past experiences; As difficult as this is, it is not the end of the world and I am grateful to be cancer free,” he said.

Hugo is currently undergoing immunosuppressive treatment and steroids.  He will be in treatment for six to 12 months before being checked out by doctors.

Hugo is currently undergoing immunosuppressive treatment and steroids. He will be in treatment for six to 12 months before being checked out by doctors.

Although Crohn's disease is not usually fatal, it is incurable and can cause life-threatening complications if left untreated.

Although Crohn’s disease is not usually fatal, it is incurable and can cause life-threatening complications if left untreated.

Although Crohn’s disease is not usually fatal, it is incurable and can cause life-threatening complications if left untreated.

The disease increases the risk of bowel cancer due to ongoing inflammation of the intestines, so careful monitoring is key.

Hugo is currently undergoing immunosuppressive treatment and steroids. He will be in treatment for six to 12 months before being checked out by doctors.

Since he doesn’t have a large intestine, he limits himself to the foods he can eat, but maintains a healthy diet as much as possible.

“It can be difficult at times, but I still try to have fun and have a drink with friends,” he said.

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes painful swelling and redness (inflammation) within the digestive tract.

Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

Symptoms tend to vary between individuals and come and go over time as the inflammation intensifies and then subsides again.

Source: health direct

Since he doesn't have a large intestine, he limits himself to the foods he can eat, but maintains a healthy diet as much as possible.

Since he doesn’t have a large intestine, he limits himself to the foods he can eat, but maintains a healthy diet as much as possible.

At 21, Hugo was healthy, training in the military and enjoying a fun-filled life before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in June 2013.

He noticed a small lump on his testicle, but admitted he didn’t immediately go to the doctors to have it checked out.

“I definitely put it off for over six months. I guess as a 21-year-old you think you’re invincible and these things won’t happen to you,” Hugo previously told Daily Mail Australia.

As a result of avoiding going to the doctor, the cancer spread to the abdominal lymph nodes, which, according to Hugo, could have been avoided if he had gone to the doctor earlier.

At 21, Hugo was training in the army and enjoying a fun-filled life before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in June 2013.

At 21, Hugo was training in the army and enjoying a fun-filled life before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in June 2013.

Hugo said he noticed a small lump, but admitted he didn't immediately go to the doctors to have it checked out.

Hugo said he noticed a small lump, but admitted he didn’t immediately go to the doctors to have it checked out.

Shortly after being diagnosed, Hugo underwent surgery to remove the cancer, which began a series of subsequent operations.

The following year, in August 2014, he had a second surgery to remove all of the abdominal lymph nodes where the cancer had spread, then in August 2015, he had a third surgery after they burst. the appendix and in February 2017 underwent reconstructive abdominal surgery.

“I also had intense ongoing chemotherapy treatments that left me bedridden in hospital and nauseous for weeks,” he said.

“I looked pale, I was skinny, I was losing my hair, eyelashes and eyebrows from chemotherapy, and people really look at you.” Everything affects you mentally,” she said.

Hugo described the high-dose chemotherapy treatments as “horrible” and a “deadly drug”, saying he found it difficult to walk through the corridors of the hospital.

1652928806 464 Young man is diagnosed with crohns disease after battling cancer

1652928808 742 Young man is diagnosed with crohns disease after battling cancer

“I put it off for more than six months. I guess being young, 21, you think you’re invincible and these things won’t happen to you,” Hugo, now 28, told FEMAIL.

After five years of surgeries and treatments, Hugo was cleared of testicular cancer in June 2018, but was later diagnosed with bowel cancer two months later in August.

After five years of surgeries and treatments, Hugo was cleared of testicular cancer in June 2018, but was later diagnosed with bowel cancer two months later in August.

After five years of surgeries and treatments, Hugo was cleared of testicular cancer in June 2018, but was later diagnosed with colon cancer two months later in August.

“Honestly, I couldn’t believe my bad luck,” he said.

Before being diagnosed at the age of 26, Hugo had few symptoms of minor aches and loose bowel movements, but said he was “proactive” about going to the doctor after “learning his lesson” the first time.

“Bowel cancer was definitely more difficult to experience and was much more concerning because it is the second biggest cause of cancer death in Australia,” he said.

Hugo said this ‘fear of the unknown’ about whether this cancer would take his life severely affected his mental health.

‘I had days where I said ‘I can’t do this again’ and wondered ‘will I ever get over it?’

What is bowel cancer and is it common?

Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women in Australia and is most common in people over 50 years of age.

Bowel cancer develops from the inner lining of the intestine and is usually preceded by growths called polyps, which can become invasive cancer if left undetected.

Symptoms include changes in bowel habit, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, bloating/cramping, anal or rectal pain, and a lump in the anus or rectum.

Source: Cancer Council of Australia

He also had to live with an exposed ileostomy bag for six months (pictured), but recently had another surgery to create a

Before being diagnosed at the age of 26, Hugo had few symptoms of mild pain and loose bowel movements, but said it was

He also had to live with an exposed ileostomy bag for six months (pictured left), but recently had another surgery to create an internal “J-pouch,” which acts like a large intestine that continues from the small intestine.

The pain of going through two cancers changed who Hugo is today and has altered his perspective on life.

“From the stage of accepting death to coming out the other side, it really has made me eternally grateful. The seven-year journey has forced me to go through all of this at a young age and realize the seriousness of cancer,” she said.

‘Make sure you continue to take care of other aspects of your life. Please do not ignore anything abnormal – see a doctor if necessary. Life goes on, so take care of yourself.

To support his immunity during the coronavirus pandemic, Hugo maintains a healthy diet, drinks fruit and vegetable juice supplements, and keeps “everything in moderation.”

To encourage young people to be proactive with their health, Hugo created the 25 Stay Alive Podcasts offer a platform for others to share their stories, experiences and similar knowledge.

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