Former Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton said she “broke down in tears” after being given a devastating diagnosis.
The dancer, who joined the BBC One show in 2014 and lifted the Glitterball two years later, was told she would probably need knee replacement surgery.
Joanne was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both knees in 2015, the year before she claimed Strictly victory on alongside celebrity partner Ore Oduba.
While she suffered with knee pain on the 2015 tour, the ballroom specialist continued performing until one day she woke up unable to move “with a massive swollen knee”.
“I was in tears wondering if I’d get through it, but I didn’t miss a show,” Joanne told the Daily Mail’s Good Health.
She completed the tour while having regular physiotherapy massages and strapping her knees but a subsequent visit to a consultant and an MRI scan led to a diagnosis and she was told the cartilage in both her knees was being worn away, and that she would probably need a knee replacement in the future.
“I broke down in tears as dance was then my whole life,” she said.
Continuing on for the 2016 series of Strictly, reaching the final saw Joanne hobbling to get her scores.
“I was a bit silly – I put a great idea ahead of my own condition,” she added to the publication.
“I’d been told when I was diagnosed in 2015 to avoid high-impact movements. We’d been practising jumping all week.
“By the Friday and Saturday I was really struggling. I look back on that dance now and think ‘Oh, for the sake of my knees, why did I choreograph all that jumping?’
“After our last dance, I could only hobble up to Claudia (Winkleman) to get our points. But winning was a great feeling despite the pain.”
After her and Ore’s win, Joanne left Strictly and also marked the end of her ballroom dancing career.
But that hasn’t stopped her and she recently began touring as part of The Addams Family show.
Joanne’s brother Kevin Clifton, who won Strictly two years after his sister with documentary maker and now-girlfriend Stacey Dooley, is also now performing on stage after leaving the hit show.