Strictly Come Dancing professional Amy Dowden has vowed to return to the dance floor after announcing she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The Caerphilly-born dancer, who joined the hit BBC show in 2017, shared the news in an Instagram post on Wednesday (24 May).
The 32-year-old told fans it was difficult news to share, but said she is “determined” to get back to dancing as soon as she can.
Dowden wrote: “Hey all, I’ve got some news which isn’t easy to share. I’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer but I’m determined to get back on that dance floor before you know it.” She signed off the message with a pink love heart and said “Welsh love Amy” with a kiss.
A swathe of Strictly stars sent her messages of support in response, with fellow professional Gorka Marquez writing: “We are all in this with you! Sending all our strength. And you will be with us in less than eight counts. We love you Amy.”
Dowden’s close friend, bridesmaid and Strictly professional Dianne Buswell added: “Our Welsh dragon is going to fight this!!!! And I cannot wait for the moment you are back on that dance floor with us. We love you so much Amy.”
Previous Strictly winner Ore Oduba wrote: “Oh Amy. All our love, there is nothing YOU cannot fight. And what an almighty dance it’ll be when you’re back. So much love.”
Dowden said she found a lump in her breast in April, the day before going to the Maldives on her honeymoon with fellow professional dancer Ben Jones, and hopes to raise awareness of the disease.
She said she went to the GP after realising the lump had grown after her holiday, before being sent for an emergency referral. Speaking to Hello magazine, she said: “Everything happened so fast within that day. I went on my own and didn’t tell anybody, but when I was there, the nurse said to me ‘You need to have somebody here’ and that’s when Ben found out.
“They told me it was looking very suspicious and to prepare for the worst, hope for the best. They did the biopsy and then we had a wait.”
Last week Dowden was told she had grade three breast cancer. She added: “My doctor explained to me that there are three grades, and three is the most aggressive, but they feel like they’ve caught mine early and to not be too alarmed because grade 3 would be expected in somebody of my age.”
The news comes after Dowden previously revealed she was suffering from Crohn’s disease in 2019, in a bid to raise awareness and help other sufferers. She said: “With what I’ve done for Crohn’s, I want to do the same here. If I can try and turn this negative into a positive, it’s going to help me get through this.
“You just don’t ever think it’s going to happen to you. I hadn’t thought it was possible to get breast cancer at my age. My mum has had breast cancer, but she had it at a later age, in her 50s.”
Last July, Dowden married Jones in a star-studded Welsh ceremony after getting engaged on New Year’s Eve in 2017. The occasion included a performance by her former Strictly dance partner and member of British pop-rock band McFly, Tom Fletcher. An array of Strictly stars were also in attendance at the event, including fellow professional Dianne Buswell, who served as bridesmaid.
Dowden said Fletcher, and his wife Giovanna ,offered her support after discovering the news. She said: “Tom and Giovanna got straight in the car and came to see me when I told them the news, and we went for a walk. Giovanna’s encouragement has been central to my decision to share my story in the hopes of helping others.”
Breast cancer symptoms to know
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK and around one in seven women are diagnosed during their lifetime, according to the NHS.
Most women who are diagnosed are over the age of 50, but the disease can affect younger women too. The earlier breast cancer is detected the greater the chance of recovery, so women are encouraged to check their breasts regularly for any changes.
In most cases, the first noticeable symptom is typically a lump or area of thickened breast tissues. Most lumps are not cancerous, but it is worth getting them checked by a doctor just in case.
The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- discharge from either of your nipples, which may be streaked with blood
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- a rash on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast