Entertainment

Strictly's Amy Dowden opens up about living with Crohn's disease

The Welsh professional dancer spoke on ITV's This Morning.

Strictly Come Dancing professional Amy Dowden has said her body “shut down” due to Crohn’s disease.

The dancer, who has been on BBC One’s flagship dancing series since 2015, was diagnosed with the condition as a child.

She told This Morning’s Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby how she changed from a “bubbly child” to a listless one.

Strictly Come Dancing 2018
Dowden and Danny John-Jules during last year’s series of Strictly (BBC/PA)

“(My parents) took us off to Winter Wonderland because it was Christmastime and they could see ‘something is wrong with Amy, she has got no energy’.

“The next thing I started getting stomach cramps. They got me home and they got so bad I actually passed out from the pain.

“They took me to A&E and they thought I had appendicitis. I went years then with these awful stomachs.”

The NHS website says Crohn’s is a “lifelong condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed”.

Following a diagnosis aged 19, Dowden spoke of the toll the illness took on her.

She said: “Terrible vomiting. Extreme vomiting, extreme pain. My body couldn’t cope, it would shut down. I would need to go into hospital.

“I could see my twin sister in uni living the life. I had these enormous dreams to become a British champion and to have my own dance school, and obviously a big dream of Strictly Come Dancing. I could just see them fading away.

“I was in hospital for a total of six weeks when I was 19 and I missed the British Open Championships.

“I know what it feels like to have my dancing taken away from me.

“When I got the diagnosis, I thought ‘finally, I have got an answer, now it is time to go and achieve my dreams’. I am not ‘Amy with Crohn’s’, I am ‘Amy the dancer’. It is not going to define me.”

The 27-year-old also told how a letter from nine-year-old fan Lacey who also has the illness, inspired her to talk publicly about her own condition.

She said: “I remember crying when I read the letter. She sent me the most beautiful letter.

“She said I made her realise she could still achieve her enormous dream of being a vet.

“I thought there might be others out there who have dreams like I did of being a dancer as a little girl. That they can still achieve it.

“You might miss exams along the way but you will get there in the end. Lacey inspired me to take the guts to go out there and talk about it.”

She first spoke about having Crohn’s when she appeared on the cover of Hello! magazine earlier this month.

During last year’s series of Strictly she partnered Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules.

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