'Strictly's Amy Dowden fears her Crohns battle could end her dance career

Amy Dowden was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in her teens. (BBC)
Amy Dowden was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in her teens. (BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing star Amy Dowden has confessed she lives in fear her battle with Crohn’s disease could end her career.

The 30-year-old professional dancer – partnered with TV presenter JJ Chalmers on the BBC dance show this year – was 19 when she was diagnosed with the condition which leaves her suffering bouts of chronic pain and requiring hospital admission.

Dowden reveals in new BBC documentary Strictly Amy: Crohn's and Me: “Strictly has been more than a dance show to me, it got me through the darkest times of my illness. For me it was a big inspiration to keep me dancing.

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“Dancing has pulled me through my Crohn's but it's a battle. I live in fear that what I love the most could be taken away. And I've been more ill this year than I have been in a long time.”

Crohn’s is a inflammatory bowel disease which can develop at any age and the causes are not fully known.

Amy Dowden is partnered with TV presenter JJ Chalmers on Strictly this year. (BBC)
Amy Dowden is partnered with TV presenter JJ Chalmers on Strictly this year. (BBC)

Dowden first developed symptoms aged 14 but was not diagnosed for several years. While there is currently no cure, the disease can be managed with medication, diet and exercise.

The Welsh ballroom dancer – who made it to the Strictly final last year with kids TV presenter Karim Zeroual – revealed her body can experience extreme flare-ups at any time.

She said: “To the public watching me with all our make-up, fake tan, glitz, glamour and spotlights, it's a different world. I don't think they could ever imagine this could be me the next day.

“I knew things weren't right but your body goes: ‘Right you've got to get through this, you don't want to let anyone down, you can do this." And you can just push yourself through anything.'

“I can't think of how many times I've been in hospital. It's got to be at least over 100 times. When I was 18 or 19 it was every month at least for a week.”

EMBARGOED TO 0001 SATURDAY OCTOBER 12 Strictly Come Dancing contestant Karim Zeroual and his professional dance partner Amy Dowden during rehearsals at a dance studio in London.
Amy Dowden made it to the final of Strictly Come Dancing with presenter Karim Zeroual in 2019. (PA)

And the dancer recalls a time when she was in so much pain she did not think she could go on.

She said tearfully: “All the time I spent in hospital when I was younger, it was like my second home. I associate it with pain. I don't have any happy memories.

“I remember begging doctors to cut me open to take my stomach out. I used to be in so much pain, it used to make me pass out. It was just like a knife stabbing me.

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“I got to one night and I think it was three or four o'clock in the morning, I was just covered in sick. I'd had enough. I rang my parents and said: "I'm going." I said to them "I can't do this anymore." I was just in so much pain.

"I said, ‘I'm done, I can't fight this anymore,’ and my parents were at the hospital half an hour later.”

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