In an exclusive interview and photoshoot, Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Amy Dowden has revealed she has been suffering from Crohn's Disease since she was a child. She has taken the brave decision to go public with her condition, which can leave her in severe pain and vomiting uncontrollably, in a bid to help others. "When I got my job on Strictly Come Dancing I didn’t want to be known as 'Amy with Crohn's'. I wanted to establish myself as 'Amy the dancer' first. But I've done two seasons on the show now, and I think it's important to speak out. It will be a relief that people will finally know, but I don’t want any sympathy. It doesn't define me, it's just part of me, and I want this to be a positive story."
Strictly's Amy Dowden has opened up about her battle with Crohn's Disease
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Her frank admission will also surprise the show's judges including Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Shirley Ballas. "I have confided in a few of the other professional dancers," she tells HELLO!. They include her best friends Oti Mabuse and Dianne Buswell, who will be bridemsaids when she gets married next summer. "I didn't want any sympathy, but there’s been days when I've not been myself and returned home from rehearsals and been really unwell."
Watch Amy talk to HELLO! about her health struggles
"People are often shocked by my day to day but for me it’s just normal," says Amy, 27, who is now working with Crohn's and Colitis UK. "There are occasions when I’m on tour, like the other week on Here Come the Girls, when I’m being sick in between the dances," says Amy, who is engaged to dancer Ben Jones . "The theatre wanted to call an ambulance. But the performance must go on. I come out and put a smile on my face. It won’t stop me." Likewis, she is determined it won’t affect her wedding day. "Obviously leading up to it I need to make sure that if there’s a symptom I’m on top of it."
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To read the full interview, pick up the latest copy of HELLO!, out Monday 6 May
World IBD Day is May 19, for more information visit www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk