Strictly Come Dancing star Amy Dowden has opened up about suffering from Crohn’s disease in a heartbreaking Instagram post.
The professional dancer, 31, bravely spoke out about living with the lifelong illness on World Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Day on Instagram, alongside a snap of herself on a hospital bed when she was having a flare-up with red, inflamed eyes, a swollen face and cracked lips.
Amy detailed how the condition, which causes inflammation of the digestive tract, has severely impacted her life and told how she had been denied work opportunities as employers considered her to be a "risk" due to her condition.
She wrote: "World IBD day. I wanted to show the reality of flares! (this isn’t me today, I’ve had a lovely day filming). Last few years I’ve really wanted to help raise awareness for IBD. Help other sufferers but also show that it doesn’t define you.
She also claimed people's attitudes have "robbed her of opportunities and dreams".
Amy said: "Today I want to share times I found tough. One of which is being judged for your condition! I would do anything in the world not to live with it, I often say what did I do to deserve this?
"Then I’d be robbed of opportunities and dreams because I’d be seen as a ‘risk’ which would frustrate and upset me, which as many know isn’t good for any sufferers. Why punish us anymore?
"Having IBD doesn’t take away your talents, your hard work, your work ethic! In fact it makes us stronger. Let’s take away the stigma and continue to talk and raise more awareness!"
Amy's Strictly co-stars and fans rushed to the comment section to send Amy their support.
Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse wrote: “Such a strong girl and role model."
While Motsi's sister Oti, also sang Amy's praises, saying: “We love you, baby."
Johannes Radebe and Aljaz Skorjanec also commented with heart emojis.
And one of Amy's fan's poured their heart out about symptoms they suffered while at school.
They said: "During my A-levels, it got really bad… In my A-level English exam, I was sweating…I literally had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the exam, I was sick.
"Got straight back in…I got through it, I think only just somehow…
"But I'm sure maybe it was just stress of the exams. Still passed the exam!"
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