Amy Dowden of Strictly Come Dancing has thrown her support behind her showbiz family as the new series premiered in her honour.
The professional dancer, 33, will not be matched with a celebrity on the 2023 programme after being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer earlier this year.
She’s since had a single mastectomy and is undergoing chemotherapy after doctors discovered new malignancies, forcing her to leave Strictly 2023.
However, she has already hinted at a forthcoming visit, and fans have showered her with love.
And they’re not the only ones, as the new series opened off with a dance in tribute of the Strictly family’s ‘Welsh dragon’.
‘We are of course missing one of our professional dancers, our wonderful Amy Dowden is sick and she can’t be with us for the opening of the season,’ said host Tess Daly.
‘She’s our Welsh dragon and we know she’ll be back soon.’
While Claudia Winkleman said: ‘Amy, from your entire Strictly family we are sending all our love and we can’t wait to have you back on the dancefloor.’
The group number had judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, and Anton Du Beke performing alongside the pros to a mix of songs including LF System’s Afraid To Feel, Kylie’s Padam Padam, and Michael Buble’s Higher.
Meanwhile, Amy expressed her support on social media.
‘My smile the other week after being with the Strictly family, the complete staff,’ she added.
‘So grateful and lucky to have you all. Tune in tonight.
‘Can’t wait to support all my friends and their fabulous journeys this year and I’ll be there when I can.’
Amy was given a standing ovation by fans after reuniting with her Strictly family.
Radio Times, who organised the photo shoot, said: ‘It was an emotional moment – tears were shed – and when she finally stepped back onto the floor, the watching audience of die-hard Strictly fans treated her to a spontaneous standing ovation’.
Amy describes the BBC programme as a ‘tonic’ amid her cancer treatment.
‘I don’t think, actually, I could get through the next few months without Strictly,’ she stated.
‘I’ll be part of the show in different areas. It’s the tonic that I need at the moment.
‘There are so many ways to be involved, and they’re going to be guided by me. I’m just really grateful for them keeping me involved, and giving me the support and encouragement I need.’
Amy was also recognised by the Strictly crew when they collected the award for Best Talent Show at the National Television Awards.
‘It’s extra special because we are joined by the fabulous Amy Dowden on stage who looks absolutely incredible,’ Fleur East, 35, told the crowd who cheered in agreement.
‘We love you Am, honestly,’ added radio DJ Tyler West, 27.
Strictly Come Dancing begins on September 16 on BBC One at 6:35pm.