The 33-year-old professional dancer, who has appeared on the celebrity ballroom dance competition since 2017, was forced to sit this season out after Dowden was diagnosed with grade three breast cancer in May.
In a new interview, Dowden shared that watching Strictly was “a great help” while she was undergoing treatment, adding the BBC One production has also “gone above and beyond” to include her this season.
“Watching Strictly has been a great help,’ she told Women’s Health magazine. “I’m my fellow professionals’ biggest cheerleader. I know people are like, ‘Yeah, yeah...’ but we’re the best of friends.”
The Welsh choreographer also said that her castmates – including Dianne Buswell, Carlos Gu, and Katya Jones – “check in on me” every day, while “production have gone above and beyond to make me part of the series as well”.
“To have no part in it would have been soul-destroying. And not good for me mentally, whatsoever. I don’t know what I would have done, I’ll be honest with you,” Dowden continued.
Strictly viewers were delighted when fan-favourite Dowden made a surprise appearance on the show last month, while receiving chemotherapy treatment.
Wearing a sparkly gown, Dowden took the stage and read out the terms and conditions for the public voting at the beginning of the episode on 7 October, as the cast of Strictly cheered for her loudly.
Elsewhere in the new interview, Dowden admitted she is still “angry” about the cancer diagnosis and that it will take her “a while to accept” it.
“I always say, I never asked [for] this to happen to me. I’ve always worked so hard. I’ve always been a good person. I looked after myself, I’ve exercised well, haven’t smoked...I do get angry,” she explained. “I just think I’ve been dealt a difficult one.”
Dowden, who has been documenting her cancer journey on social media to raise awareness, underwent a mastectomy in July. However, she was later told she would have to begin chemotherapy after doctors discovered the cancer had spread.
Earlier this month, Dowden gave fans a joyous health update, announcing that she had successfully completed all eight rounds of chemotherapy before ringing the bell that signifies the end of the treatment.
“We are finally here,” she wrote on Instagram, as she arrived at the Sheldon Unit in Birmingham, ahead of her final session on 9 November. “I’ve cried all morning! Right an afternoon of chemo and then I’m so lucky and grateful to be able to ring that bell! Will never take it for granted! Thank you to the incredible Sheldon Unit! You are all amazing NHS, all true heroes.
“Right here goes! See you all later,” she captioned a photograph taken outside the hospital.