Strictly’s Amy Dowden says the show has been her ‘saviour’ amid debilitating Chron’s battle

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Strictly Come Dancing pro Amy Dowden has opened up exclusively to OK! about how her dream of being on the show kept her going through the toughest of times.

Everyone knows that passion can help us through dark times, Amy revealed that her love of ballroom has been her "saviour."

In a new BBC documentary, the professional dancer opens up about how Crohn’s Disease, a chronic condition that means she struggles to digest food, has brought her to her lowest point.

The 31 year old admitted to feeling so desperate while in hospital that she told her parents: “I can’t do this any more, I’m just in so much pain, I’m done. I can’t fight this any more.”

How does Crohn’s impact your life?

Crohn’s is a chronic condition which affects my digestive system and causes indescribable pain. I’ve had it since childhood and I’ve had to accept there is no cure. Dancing has pulled me through, but it’s a battle. I live in fear that what I love the most could be taken away.

Everybody suffers differently – I suffer with severe constipation, sickness and pain. The pain can be that bad it makes me pass out. Many sufferers end up having surgery but until now I’ve managed my symptoms with supplements and a strict diet.

You had a bad flare-up last year, didn’t you?

During lockdown I had one of the worst flare-ups I’ve ever experienced. I was in intense pain, unable to eat and drifting in and out of consciousness. I went to hospital and was stabilised with morphine and steroids.

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Slowly I started to get better but it was June before I was back on my feet. It made me think of all the times I spent in hospital when I was younger. I think, at one stage, the hospital was my second home.

How does Strictly help?

Strictly is more than just a dance show to me, it’s got me through the darkest times in my illness. For me, it’s a big inspiration to keep me dancing, it’s what I always work towards.

I had this dream of being on Strictly – if you told me when I was 19 years old and hospitalised for six weeks that I was going to go on to become a British champion and be on Strictly, I don’t think I would have believed you.

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It’s been my saviour. Dancing is where I take away all my worries.

You’ve been hospitalised over 100 times since you were a teen. Do you worry Crohn’s might force you out of the show?

What’s helped me so much is that the Strictly team are so understanding. There are contingency plans in place. We’ve never had to use them, luckily, but if my symptoms get bad then a plan kicks in that production have.

They don’t actually worry me with the details – they’re always like, “Amy, you don’t have to worry.” I’m just truly lucky because before Strictly , I had so many job opportunities turned away from me because of my Crohn’s. It’s wrong, and in a sense, it’s discrimination.

Watch Strictly Amy: Chron's and Me Friday 27 August on BBC1 at 7pm and iPlayer

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