Strictly’s Amy Dowden almost died during chemo: ‘It got very bad – I was unresponsive’
5th October 2023

Strictly Come Dancing's Amy Dowden has spoken of the harrowing moment she nearly died following chemotherapy to treat her cancer.

The 33 year old pro dancer, who joined the BBC One show in 2017, announced earlier this year that she had been diagnosed with grade three aggressive breast cancer. The Welsh ballroom and Latin star underwent a single mastectomy in June and has gone on to have five rounds of chemotherapy to treat the disease.

Now Amy has opened up on how her first and second cycles of chemo ended up with emergency hospital stays and life-threatening complications. First she suffered from sepsis and secondly with blood clots.

She described how, after her first round of the treatment, she “felt great” and even went on a five-mile walk with her dad two days later. But soon after, she collapsed with a high temperature.

“From there everything got very serious,” she told the Mirror. “I remember going into hospital and them telling me I had an infection, but the following day it got very bad, I was unresponsive to antibiotics for hours.”

She went on to say she remembered having a lot of doctors surrounding her in the early hours of a Sunday morning but then could recall nothing until she woke up on the following Monday when a nurse explained she had gone into septic shock.

“They said my blood pressure was that low, my vital organs would have started failing,” she added.

Amy also had a low heart rate and her infection markers were at dangerous levels but finally she responded to the third type of antibiotics she was given.

She said: “We met the paramedics a week later and they said if I had gone to bed that night I might not have woken up the next morning.”

The sepsis was caused by an infection she picked just up before her treatment – and her oncologist assured her she had just been unlucky. But during her second round of chemo she ended up back in hospital again – this time with blood clots – caused by complications with her port, fitted to a vein to help administer drugs for the treatment.

She described how her arm swelled up and went purple – leaving her in hospital for two days. Amy added she had been left on blood thinners following the “frightening” experience.

The dance star – who has decided to shave her head as she undergoes chemo – has had bad luck with her health since a young age. She developed Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition, at the age of 11 and has faced fresh bouts after joining Strictly in 2017.

She told how she discovered a lump in her breast a day before she went on her honeymoon in April, a belated trip following her 2022 marriage to Ben, with whom she won the British National Latin Dance Championships. She had only just begun checking herself, following a charity trek with the breast cancer charity CoppaFeel!

Doctors removed three tumours and further cancer “specks”, plus some lymph nodes from her right breast, during the surgery in June. But afterwards she received more bad news.

Medics had discovered a second type of breast cancer in the tissue they removed, and more tumours, including one close to her chest, as well as specks in her other breast.

They will need to be investigated once she finishes chemotherapy.

But, despite her battle, Amy has admitted that she still dreams of dancing on the Strictly dance floor again. Writing on social media ahead of Sunday night’s results show, she said: "There’s no text book or right/wrong way to deal with your cancer journey. Everyone deals with it rightly their way.

"I’m so lucky to be surrounded by so much support which I don’t take for granted and days like here is what keeps me going. I’m dreaming every night of dancing on that floor again but right now I’m my fellow pros' proudest and biggest cheerleader.”

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