Search icon


28th Aug 2023

Strictly’s Amy Dowden opens up on her sepsis battle during chemotherapy

She’s a fighter, that’s for sure.

Amy Dowden has opened up about the sepsis battle she endured soon after her first round of chemotherapy.

The Strictly Come Dancing star was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer back in May, and in July, she shared the news that doctors had discovered another form of cancer, which left her needing chemotherapy.

The 32-year-old bravely shared the additional health scare she faced in an interview with HELLO! Magazine, detailing the symptoms of the condition that started showing on Thursday, August 3rd, and the events that led to her hospitalisation.

“I wasn’t feeling too bad that day; I was just sick, but a couple of hours later I started having a temperature of 37.7 degrees Celsius.

“At the time, I didn’t realise that having a temperature of 37.5 or above could be fatal for a chemo patient. I just thought it was my reaction to chemo, but as it turned out, I had already got an infection,” Amy says.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Amy-Dowden (@amy_dowden)

Explaining that the days that followed her first chemo session (Friday and Saturday) that she ‘couldn’t believe how good’ she felt and had even managed to get out for a walk, which she forwarded to producers working on Strictly Come Dancing.

However, it was after the walk with her dad, Richard, that things began to go south.

Amy’s mum, Gillian, says that her symptoms ‘got worse very, very quickly.’

“At one point she felt ok, then suddenly she felt very ill—it happened in an instant,” her mum recalled.

It was when the two decided to sit down and watch a film that she began to notice that Amy was breathless and then started complaining of chest pain.

“She went to stand, then just sort of crumpled back onto the settee,” Gillian says, with the Strictly star describing symptoms of feeling ‘freezing cold’ while also being ‘clammy and shaking.’

It was then that Amy’s parents rang her ‘red card, a service that provides the chemotherapy team’s contact details and current treatment information, and they said to hang up and ring the ambulance.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Amy-Dowden (@amy_dowden)

When the West Midlands Ambulance came to Amy’s aid, she was adamant that she did not want to present at the hospital, despite being told she should after a thorough examination by two paramedics.

“I didn’t want to go into hospital; at the time I didn’t realise how ill I was. I knew it was a Saturday night, so A&E would probably be crowded, and it was dangerous being around people as it’s more likely you’ll pick up an infection.

“On chemo, you don’t have your white blood cells to fight infection. We now know I had the infection just before I started chemo, but we were never able to pinpoint what actually caused it,” she explained.

Her reasoning was completely understandable, but thankfully the two paramedics, advanced paramedic Adam Aston and student paramedic Tom Scott, managed to reassure her that she would be isolated at the hospital.

This is something that Amy’s mum is now thankful for too: “While Adam drove Amy and I to the hospital, Tom sat in the back with us, and he chatted the whole way, keeping me calm. I felt confident being in their hands.”

Amy and her family now credit the two NHS paramedics for saving her life.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Amy-Dowden (@amy_dowden)

Amy was taken to and treated at Walsall Manor Hospital for a viral infection with an antibiotic drip, and at 3am that night, she was stable.

Later that morning, however, her family received a shock when they called the hospital for an update and learned that Amy was being treated for sepsis.

“We were in panic mode,” Amy’s father confessed, admitting they rushed back to the hospital. who rushed to the hospital.

When they arrived, a doctor informed them that Amy was being treated by the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team and that her blood pressure was dangerously low.

“We didn’t know what to do with ourselves; everything was looking very serious. What I couldn’t believe is how quick the situation can change and how little time you have to respond,” Amy’s mum shared.

Amy began showing signs of improvement by Sunday evening after changing the course of antibiotics she was on.

Reflecting on the experience now, the Strictly alum says she has very little memory of her time in the hospital.

“The doctors and nurses were telling me I had sepsis and that it was life-threatening, but I wasn’t taking it in. I didn’t become properly aware until later,” Amy revealed.

Thankfully, she was able to return home on Wednesday, August 8th, after five days of sepsis symptoms and hospitalisation.

Since recovering from sepsis, Amy has been able to maintain her chemotherapy treatment.

Her symptoms include tiredness, breathlessness, and hair loss, according to the dancer, who says she is losing a lot of hair now and has started wearing a cold cap during infusions to help protect the hair follicles.

We are sending Amy so much love, positivity, and well wishes at this time.