Strictly Come Dancing star Amy Dowden was reluctant to undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer, her friend Sara Davies has said.
The pair met on Strictly in 2021 when Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Davies was partnered with Slovenian dancer Aljaz Skorjanec and Dowden was with McFly singer Tom Fletcher.
They have gone on to appear in Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, which aired last year after Dowden disclosed her stage three breast cancer.
Caerphilly-born Dowden has undergone a mastectomy and fertility treatment, and missed out on being a competitor on Strictly during the 2023 series.
She did have chemotherapy, with her last session in November.
Davies told the Mirror’s Invite Only podcast: “I spent a lot of time with her at the start of the cancer diagnosis, when she wasn’t feeling positive and she’d been dealt a bad hand and she was struggling with it.
“I knew then I needed to be the friend that was filling her tank, but also… I’m not the best person, if you’re a bit down in life, and you just want someone to give you a hug and tell you it’s (going to) be OK.”
She added that she is the type of friend that “wants to fix your problems” and find an “action plan”.
“Actually, what I realised is she’s been surrounded by lots of people who could give her a hug and tell her it was (going to) be OK,” Davies added.
“I was the one who was like, ‘What’s the plan, Amy?’ and pushing her to make difficult decisions. She wasn’t sure if she was going to have chemo.”
Davies said she did not make the decision for her friend but did coach Dowden through it.
“She lives for Strictly… and what I’ve realised with the dancers is that from (when they are) little, they are hardwired to dance, it’s what makes them happy,” she added.
“And the biggest blow for her was: ‘If I don’t go down that route, I won’t be able to do Strictly this year.’
“I had to look her in the eye and say: ‘Amy, you’ve got cancer. They’ve literally just cut your boob off. They are telling you (that) you need to have this chemo to get better. Don’t worry about dance and Strictly.’
“Her response was: ‘But they might not want me back next year.'”
Davies said reassured Dowden by saying “this is just a blip, it’s a tiny amount of time in the grand scheme of everything going on”, and she would be invited back on the celebrity dancing show.
She added that Dowden is “a lot more positive now” and “on the road to recovery” but her focus remains on returning to Strictly.
The cast of the 2024 Strictly series is yet to be announced but the BBC is releasing the second series of Dowden’s show Dare To Dance next month, which sees her teach the public how to perform routines.