Strictly Come Dancing’s Amy Dowden opens up about her battle with Crohn’s disease in a new documentary. Strictly Amy: Crohn’s and Me explores the Welsh dancer’s life-long struggle with the condition, which frequently leaves her hospitalised, as she looks at lifting the stigma around Crohn’s.
Amy said: “Although thousands of people in the UK suffer from Crohn’s and colitis, they are conditions that the general public don’t know too much about and medical professionals are still learning about. I was quite nervous to share my story and I think some viewers who know me from Strictly will be quite shocked by how much Crohn’s can affect me, but I think it’s really important for people to understand what Crohn’s means and what sufferers have to go through.”
The condition is notoriously difficult to diagnose and the film charts her struggles to uncover the reason why she is afflicted with it and why it’s so hard to spot. Crohn’s also responds badly to stress and as she entered the busiest year of her life – with a Strictly tour, a national solo tour and her wedding all planned before the summer – Amy let the cameras follow her to show what happened.
After eight months of live performances, Amy’s body was pushed to the brink and just hours after the tour ended, her Crohn’s flared up and she was hospitalised. Soon after, lockdown was announced and her solo show, as well as her wedding, were cancelled. As the stress mounted, Amy suffered one of her worst flare ups ever and was hospitalised again.
While recuperating and coping with her own health issues, Amy was determined to meet others in similar situations to herself.
Former England rugby captain Lewis Moody MBE was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2005 and Amy hears how it impacted his own sporting career. She also discovers that Strictly judge Shirley Ballas has also been affected by the disease, having to witness her niece suffer with Crohn’s.
At a body confidence workshop and photoshoot, she meets a group of women who have had surgery to help with their Crohn’s and want to challenge the way people with stoma bags are seen.
Amy continued: “In making this film I have met some truly inspiring people who haven’t let their conditions affect them and also learnt so much more about the disease. No one likes to talk about their bowels or digestive system but hopefully by normalising the conversation we can improve our understanding of this illness. Crohn’s remains a chronic illness for which there is currently no cure, but I hope this film gives people the confidence to talk about these issue, believe that they can overcome their health obstacles and achieve their dreams.”
Strictly Amy: Crohn’s and Me airs Thursday, 15 October on BBC One Wales, 9pm