Strictly professional Amy Dowden: I’ve been dealt a difficult one

Dancer Amy Dowden is on the cover of the December issue of Women’s Health UK (Mark Cant/Women’s Health UK/PA)
Dancer Amy Dowden is on the cover of the December issue of Women’s Health UK (Mark Cant/Women’s Health UK/PA)

Strictly Come Dancing professional Amy Dowden has said she does get “angry” and it will “take a while to accept” her cancer diagnosis at such a young age while also managing a chronic illness.

The 33-year-old Welsh dancer, who joined Strictly in 2017, announced her breast cancer diagnosis in May after finding a lump in her breast in April, the day before going to the Maldives on honeymoon with fellow professional dancer Ben Jones.

She had previously revealed in 2019 that she was suffering from Crohn’s disease, and fronted the BBC programme Strictly Amy: Crohn’s And Me, in which she spoke about her battle with the condition and met other people with Crohn’s to hear about their experiences.

The Caerphilly-born dancer appears on the cover of the December issue of Women’s Health UK and told the magazine: “Oh yeah… I always say I never asked (for) this to happen to me.

“I’ve always worked so hard. I’ve always been a good person. I looked after myself, I’ve exercised well, haven’t smoked… I do get angry.

“I just think I’ve been dealt a difficult one… I think it’ll take a while to accept.

“It took me a long time to accept my Crohn’s. Until I’m back dancing and back to my normal self, I don’t think I will accept it.”

Crohn’s is described by the NHS as a lifelong condition in which parts of the digestive system become inflamed, and Dowden was diagnosed at the age of 19.

People with the disease commonly experience phases of intense abdominal pain, severe vomiting, exhaustion and bloody diarrhoea, among other symptoms.

On her decision to appear on the magazine cover without a wig, she said: “Finding out I had Crohn’s, I didn’t ever have anyone in the public eye to look up to or to say to my friends ‘That’s what I’ve got.’

“And I just had a little moment – I imagined teenagers being able to go to school and being able to embrace (not having hair) or go swimming and just be like ‘I’m like Amy who’s off Strictly’.

“And that just gave me the confidence to go ‘Yeah, let’s do this’.”

Earlier this month Dowden revealed she had fractured her foot, ruling her out of making an appearance on Strictly this year.

She was unable to have a celebrity partner on the popular BBC One show following her diagnosis and subsequent cancer treatment, but had planned to make an appearance on the dancefloor.

Strictly star Amy Dowden on the cover of Women’s Health UK (Mark Cant/Women’s Health UK/PA)

She said she wants to be “treated as normal”, adding: “When I’m walking outside and I’ve got my headscarf on, I don’t want looks of sympathy or feeling sorry for me – I’m Amy… Sometimes people don’t know how to address it.

“Just ask how I am – I will answer you. We don’t want you to feel sorry for us. We’re embracing it. Stand strong with us… Don’t give me that pity look – I don’t need it!”

Since her diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy and chemotherapy, she has raised awareness of breast cancer and posted regular treatment updates on Instagram, including appearing on Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer broadcast this month to celebrate a decade of the appeal for Cancer Research UK.

– Read the full interview in the December issue of Women’s Health UK, also available as a digital edition.