Shirley Ballas, pictured performing in 2018, had to have her left breast removed in 2008 because of an illness, but it took her four years to be fit enough to audition for Strictly Come Dancing
Strictly's Shirley Ballas has opened up about her 'nightmare' experience of a previous cancer diagnosis.
The dance judge, 53, revealed that she underwent a triple mastectomy following an illness a decade ago, but only returned to the dance floor four days later - after she had undergone the surgical procedure.
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Shirley said: 'I had a breast cancer scare and, because of the surgery I had, I wasn't fit to be on the show.
'I had just had my left breast removed as a precaution after I got sick.
'Four days later I was back on the dance floor.'
She added: 'It's amazing how in four days you can feel yourself and get past that.'
The ex-American Ballet Theatre Principal said that it took her 'years' to get back into shape, adding: 'There was not a day of my life when I did not exercise.
'By far the longest time I've ever been away from it was eight weeks. It is worth every minute you put into it.'
It took more than four years for her to finally find her groove - which made her confident enough to return to dance.
Strictly's Shirley also told The Mirror: 'You just have to look at the record of the winner of the show to realise it's always been that person who has best grasped the concept of dance.
'It's like the clock, after 12 hours you know if it's going to stop or keep going.'
The 53-year-old told The Sunday Mirror that she has battled with her weight and body confidence ever since growing up in Barnsley, South Yorkshire (pictured centre back photo in 2003 in her heyday)
Shirley Ballas told the Sunday Mirror: 'It's amazing how in four days you can feel yourself and get past that'
Strictly fans were thrilled that her ballroom brilliance was highlighted on the show (pictured) on Friday when she took on the role of head judge following the absence of Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli
Strictly fans were thrilled that her ballroom brilliance was highlighted on the show on Friday when she took on the role of head judge following the absence of Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli.
Shirley Ballas - one of the best female ballroom dancers to ever hit the floor - returned to her role as head judge to find she was overwhelmed by support from her fellow panel members, including Kevin Clifton, with Bruce Forsyth given inance after her mentor Shirley stepped away.
The trio joked that they don't know what's in the water at the BBC studios - but judging by her sheer energy, she may want to eat a smoothie.
The BBC show has been full of tension since the news that Ballas had stepped down from her role as head judge after just one year.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Shirley had been rushed to hospital in 2015 after coming off her daily exercise regime.
Shirley Ballas - one of the best female ballroom dancers to ever hit the floor - returned to her role as head judge to find she was overwhelmed by support from her fellow panel members
However, on Friday the Strictly legend was cheered by her loyal fans when she held the role alongside fellow judges Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley herself and Bruno Tonioli.
And she went on to hit all of the notes in an honest and entertaining interview, calling Karen Clifton and Gorka Marquez, as well as the new Queen of the Ballroom dancers Faye Tozer 'phenomenal' and Jane Danson 'funny and entertaining.'
Speaking to co-host Zoe Ball about her BBC comments, she said: 'I felt we let the public down. It's not that I wasn't proud of them, I've got nothing but love for them. I think that I was just a little too nice.
'But I did admit there was something missing and I was doing my job and I have to be honest and be fair - the judges all missed the fact that I was there.'
Strictly Come Dancing continues next Saturday on BBC One at 6.50pm.