Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Amy Dowden has revealed she suffered a “setback” in her cancer treatment when she was diagnosed with “life-threatening” sepsis.
Caerphilly-born Dowden, who joined the BBC dance competition show in 2017, said she was treated in intensive care after her first round of chemotherapy earlier this month.
She wrote on Instagram: “I recently suffered a setback in my cancer treatment and spent several days in hospital and needing care by an ICU team.”
The 33-year-old announced in June that she had undergone a mastectomy after discovering that she had stage three breast cancer.
Dowden later said doctors found another type of cancer and has since been documenting her experiences, hoping it will raise awareness and encourage others to check themselves.
She told Hello! magazine she first started feeling ill two days after her first round of chemotherapy and started getting a temperature.
“I started having a temperature of 37.7 degrees Celsius." She said.
“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.”
She added: “I felt freezing cold but I was all clammy and shaking. My mum and dad rang my red card [which provides the chemotherapy team’s contact details and current treatment information] and they said to hang up and ring the ambulance.”
She continued: “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.”
Dowden told the magazine her memory of her time in hospital is very hazy, adding: “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. I told my dad: ‘I’ve got sepsis’ and he said: ‘I know!'”
Dowden had to spend her birthday on August 10 on hospital following another rise in her temperature but is now on the mend at home and has been able to continue with her chemotherapy treatment.
As a result she has started to lose her hair and wear a wig but is still hopeful she will be able to appear on the upcoming Strictly series in some way.
She said: “I’ve been on the phone to the Strictly team today… they said they’re getting me some fabulous wigs ready.
“The team are being guided by me – they’ve been utterly amazing.
“We’ve got some dates in the diary, but it will depend on how I feel. We’re taking it a step at a time.
“The pros have been sending videos, flowers and presents. I speak to Dianne [Buswell] every single day. This is impacting on them as well because we’re a team.
“I’m grateful they are including me because Strictly will help me get through the next few months, mentally. It’s just the tonic that I need.”
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