Scots charity praises Strictly star Amy for opening up on Crohn’s disease battle in documentary

A Scots charity has praised Strictly Come Dancing star Amy Dowden for opening up about her experiences living with Crohn’s disease in a new documentary being screened on Thursday, October 15.

Charity Cure Crohn’s Colitis, based in the Glasgow area, gives 100% of all its donations to research to help find a cure for devastating inflammatory bowel conditions (IBD) Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Visit www.curecrohnscolitis.org

Professional dancer Amy has lived with the chronic condition all her life.

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She hopes by sharing her experiences with the public she can help raise awareness about IBD, an incurable illness that affects the digestive system.

Amy said: ““Although thousands of people in the UK suffer from Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, they are conditions that the general public don’t know too much about and medical professionals are still learning about.

“I was quite nervous to share my story and I think some viewers who know me from Strictly will be quite shocked by how much Crohn’s can affect me but I think it’s really important for people to understand what Crohn’s means and what sufferers have to go through.”

Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis cause inflammation of the digestive system, leading to debilitating stomach aches and cramps, bowel problems, fatigue and weight loss.

Current chemotherapy treatment only serves to suppress symptoms and only works in some people. Many sufferers end up with multiple surgeries to have parts of their bowel removed. The disease also puts them at a higher risk of bowel cancer.

The exact cause of the illness is unknown and people with IBD can suffer painful, unpredictable flare-ups.

The new film, titled Strictly Amy: Crohn’s and Me, charts the Welsh dancer’s attempts to find out why she developed Crohn’s and why the condition is so difficult to diagnose.

She meets a group of women at a body confidence workshop who want to challenge the way people with stoma bags are seen.

She also meets former England rugby union captain Lewis Moody, who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2005 and speaks with Strictly judge Shirley Ballas, whose nephew has Crohn’s.

Amy said: “In making this film I have met some truly inspiring people who haven’t let their conditions affect them, and also learned so much more about the disease.

“No one likes to talk about their bowels or digestive system but hopefully by normalising the conversation we can improve our understanding of this illness.

“Crohn’s remains a chronic illness for which there is currently no cure, but I hope this film gives people the confidence to talk about these issue, believe that they can overcome their health obstacles and achieve their dreams.”

Roy Provan, Chair of charity Cure Crohn’s Colitis, praised Amy for sharing her experience of living with IBD.

He said: “I am delighted that Amy has helped to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease in this way.

“Significant advances are being made in treating IBD.

“Every penny of every donation to Cure Crohn’s Colitis goes straight to world leading patient centric research into these debilitating chronic conditions.”

The documentary, Strictly Amy: Crohn’s and Me, will be broadcast on BBC One Wales tonight - Thursday, October 15 at 9pm. It is also available nationwide on BBCiplayer.