Strictly Come Dancing's Amy Dowden says being able to carry on with TV work while going through cancer gave her "something to get up for" every day.

33-year-old Dowden was unable to participate in last year's Strictly competition. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and fertility treatment after being diagnosed with cancer in May.

She had already started the second series of Dare To Dance, in which she coaches people to learn a dance routine to surprise family and friends.

"We continued to film right until my mastectomy [last June]," she told the BBC.

"We started filming just before my cancer diagnosis. So I'm like fully meeting the contributors, I'd taught them their first lesson and first steps, and then unfortunately I got the diagnosis," she said.

"And then two weeks after my mastectomy, I was back - I couldn't dance myself, but I could still instruct - and we got the series done before I started chemo.

"So I was very much involved, far more than I thought, and it really, really helped," she said.

Caerphilly-born Amy, who joined Strictly in 2017, told fans on Instagram on Monday she was doing "much better" after being unexpectantly admitted to the respiratory unit last week amid her ongoing treatment, which now sees her receive monthly injections.

It all began when she found a lump in her breast just before going on her honeymoon with her husband and fellow pro dancer Ben Jones last April.

Being able to carry on working gave her a sense of "normality", she said.

"I think had I had all that taken away from me, I would have really struggled," she added.

In a surprise twist this series, when Amy needed a break from filming due to treatment, her Strictly colleagues stepped in to help.

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"We called upon the help of my brilliant Strictly friends - Diane Buswell, Carlos Gu, Graziano Di Prima, Oti Mabuse - so the contributors didn't miss out," she said.

"And actually, I think it really added to the show because they got to pick up tips from them and build their confidence up from them," she said.

Dowden said she "learned so much from the contributors" too - and while the purpose of the show was for her to help them, they ended up helping her.

"We become really close, like a family"

"We become really close, like a family," she said.

"When you're doing something as intensive this, it's important for the team to create that special bond. And honestly, it's what helped me get through such a difficult period in my life," she added.

The dancer shares regular updates about her health on Instagram and is also glad she has been able to use her experiences to raise awareness.

"I've even had people come up to me and say 'Because of you Amy, I check my chest now' - and that was the whole reason for me going public, because I never thought at the age of 32, I would get diagnosed with breast cancer."