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Amy Dowden honoured in touching tribute amid cancer treatment during Strictly first show

It has been a bittersweet return to Strictly Come Dancing for 2023 – as despite the exciting show gearing up for another season of glitz, glamour and ballroom – there is one key professional dancer missing from the line-up. Amy Dowden has been forced to miss the latest series while chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer – but her co-stars ensured that she would not be forgotten about during the launch show – and shared a supportive message to her. 

During the episode, which aired on Saturday, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman paid a very touching tribute to Amy, calling her their “Welsh dragon” as she missed “the start of the series”, and wishing her a very speedy recovery in a lovely tribute ahead of one of the group dances. 

WATCH: Strictly pays sweet tribute to Amy Dowden

Amy has been candid about her treatment, and recently admitted that she has been struggling with her hair loss as a result of chemo, explaining: “I’m not going to lie… It’s really, really hard and I think I cry… less now. To begin with, [it was] like every day. But now, I have meltdowns when I wash my hair once a week.”

amy dowden sitting on sofa © Instagram
Amy is currently undergoing treatment

She added: “For the last two weeks now, I haven’t brushed my hair and that has definitely helped. Since I came out of hospital with the blood clots, I stopped brushing it myself because I was just getting distraught seeing how much was falling out.”

The Strictly pro opened up about her cancer diagnosis in an exclusive interview with HELLO! in May, explaining: “I’ve been through quite a lot in my life and this is another hurdle,” Amy, 32, tells HELLO!. “But if I’m positive and strong, I’ve got a really good chance of getting back out on the dancefloor as soon as possible… 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.”

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Speaking about realising that there was a problem, she continued: “CoppaFeel! has now potentially saved my life, because I don’t know how long this lump could have been there before I would have noticed and done something about it. So me speaking out might end up saving some other people’s lives because they start checking their breasts.

Amy Dowden in a hospital bed© Instagram
Amy’s first round of chemotherapy has been completed

“I was in the shower and I felt this hard lump in my right breast. I was in shock; I checked again. I thought: ‘Right, it could just be period-related, or so many things. I decided I was going to keep an eye on it for a few weeks. On holiday, putting body lotion on every day, I was noticing it. I started to check it less because it was worrying me, and I didn’t want to flare my Crohn’s up. Then, once we were back home, I went to do a [dance] show with Ben and I was putting some shimmer on and the lump felt so much bigger. I just knew I needed to go to the doctor.”

Strictly Come Dating: couples who met on the dancefloor

As well as Gemma and Gorka, there are several other loved-up couples who met during their time on Strictly

  • Janette Manrara and Aljaz Škorjanec met on Strictly in 2010, before marrying in 2017 and welcoming a baby, Lyra, in 2023.
  • Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev met during the 2013 series. They married in 2019 and have two children together.
  • Dianne Buswell and Joe Sugg fell in love while competing in 2018. They live together in Brighton.
  • Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton met in 2018 and welcomed a baby girl, Minnie, in 2023.
  • Max George and Maisie Smith shared their Strictly experience together in 2020, but didn’t announce their relationship until 2022.
  • Tyler West and Molly Rainford starred in the 2022 series together and have been going strong ever since!
  • Kai Widdrington and Nadiya Bychkova are both professionals on the show, and began dating in 2022.
  • Kristina Rihanoff and Ben Cohen were partnered together on the show in 2013, confirming their romance in 2014. They share a daughter together, Mila, who was born in 2018.

Amy has already been inundated with support from her fellow Strictly stars, with Dianne Buswell sharing a snap of the pair together, writing: “Sending our Welsh dragon every single bit of love, energy, determination, healing vibes and more. I know today is a big day for you but knowing you you will be (rrrrrrrreeaady) in your Welsh accent to see the light at the end of all of this, ring that bell and be back dancing with your Strictly fam.” 

Amy Dowden pink dress© getty
Amy was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year

After posting a photo of her treatment, Graziano Di Prima wrote: “Sending love my friend,” while Karen Hauer added: “Sending love”. 

Speaking on This Morning, Anton du Beke said: “She’s an incredible girl, and we’re all wishing her as much love as we can and as much support as we can. We’re all on a group chat and we’re with her through the whole journey. We can’t wait to see her back on the show, fighting fit.”

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