In an exclusive new interview in HELLO! magazine, Strictly Come Dancing and Steps star Faye Tozer reveals how her family was facing an emotional challenge at the same time as she was on the popular TV series. Joined by her mother for the exclusive photoshoot, Faye says that while her dance training with Strictly professional Giovanni Pernice was in full swing, Dorothy was undergoing treatment for stage 3 breast cancer. "While I was putting on sequins, Mum was putting on a cold cap," Faye tells HELLO!. "That kept everything in perspective. If I was having a bad day, I knew that Mum was going through so much more."
Faye Tozer and her mum Dorothy chatted to HELLO!
"It was Mum's journey, not mine," explains Faye of why they decided not to talk about it until now. "I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me or ask how I was because it wasn’t about me. I wanted to get on with the job, and Mum wanted that as well. She was so incredibly positive."
The diagnosis in April last year led to her mother undergoing a mastectomy followed by months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However watching Faye go through the Strictly experience gave a much-needed boost. "I would send her photos of the costumes," Faye tells HELLO!. "And every week I sent Mum a video of me and Giovanni rehearsing, so she could watch the progress we'd made on the Saturday night. I'd always phone and say: 'Mum, how are we doing?' She was still so supportive even though she was going through so much. I think we all just kept going, and it wasn't until afterwards that it really sunk in."
The former Strictly Come Dancing star is incredibly close to her mum
Faye gives credit to Strictly for having an impact on the work she is now offered, and fulfilling a lifelong dream. "Strictly has given me so many opportunities. It was just a dream. All that glitter and sequins and hairspray – my nine-year-old self was screaming with happiness. I love that show; it was always the one I wanted to do. It was a life goal ticked."
Most of all, though, Faye is just happy knowing her mother has completed most of her treatment. "We didn't want to say: 'This is dreadful, I have cancer,'" says Dorothy, who hopes her experience will help others. "We are saying: 'I had cancer, but now I've sorted it.'"
"It’s nice to be able to say: 'This is what happened and we are out the other side,'" adds Faye. "I am so very proud of her."
Faye recently shared a throwback photo of herself with her mum and sister during her Steps days
Since her incredible stint on last year's Strictly Come Dancing, where she finished as runner-up alongside Giovanni, the singer landed a role in West End theatre show, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Away from the limelight, Faye is a doting mum to her nine-year-old son Benjamin, whom she shares with husband Michael Smith. Shortly before Strictly ended, the couple celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary. Sharing a cute picture of the pair, Faye tweeted at the time: "Happy 9th Anniversary Mr Smith @mick_smith_ #teamtozersmith xxx."
Her husband also shared a series of images, including one from their wedding day. "Happy 9th Anniversary @Faye_Tozer I love you more than chocolate," he said, adding: "Nine years ago, right now, I was sitting on the sofa feeling rough, happy, scared, nervous, excited, sick and most of all confused. How could someone like @Faye_Tozer want to marry my dozy ass? Well, I still think it was the best decision she ever made, we rock!" Steps star Faye and her software sales manager husband Michael have been together for over a decade, they welcomed their only child, Benjamin, in 2009.
To read the full interview, pick up the latest copy of HELLO!, out Monday 29 July