Abby Lee Miller Busts a Move
- Even though Dance Moms star and cancer survivor Abby Lee Miller has been confined to a wheelchair since 2018, she can still bust a move.
- In April 2018, Miller was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She has been wheelchair-bound since her first spinal cord surgery later that year.
- Following cancer surgery, many people may assume that avoiding exercise is the way to go. However, starting a physical therapy routine can actually offer a huge benefit when it comes to recovery.
In a recent Instagram post, Miller, 56, sporting an Abby Lee Dance Company sweatshirt, is seen standing in front of her walker, performing a new routine.Read More
“Thank you for watching,” she added.
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Recently, Miller opened up about how she underwent surgery to remove the excess skin left behind by her extreme weight loss. In 2017, Miller pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud and was sentenced to a year in prison. During the months she spent behind bars, Miller lost 127 pounds, leaving her with significant excess skin. She gave an exclusive interview to Inside Edition regarding her surgery to remove the excess skin.
In the interview, she opened up about the discomfort that originally led her to consider surgery.
“I am just devastated,” she said.
“The loose skin. It drives me crazy and I’m teaching a lot more now,” Miller added. “I go to use my arms on camera and I see it, and I’m like, ‘Oh gosh.’”
Abby Lee Miller’s Cancer Battle
Burkitt, which is rare (making up 1% to 2% of all lymphomas), typically starts in the abdomen, where it forms a large tumor. It can spread rapidly to the brain and spinal fluid. According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, this fast-growing form of cancer may affect the jaw, central nervous system, bowel, kidneys, ovaries or other organs, and may spread to the central nervous system.
Miller, who was living in a halfway house in Long Beach, Calif., at the time, began experiencing pain. She had just been released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Victorville, Calif., where she served nearly a year-long sentence after pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud in June 2016.
Experiencing pain she had never felt before, Miller went to a local urgent care clinic, tests were done, but she was sent home, undiagnosed. Because her jaw hurt, she went to a dentist who “did an ice cube check on every tooth and said there’s nothing wrong with your teeth,” she previously told SurvivorNet. But the pain persisted.
Miller wound up at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where she was discharged after three days in “worse pain than I went in with.” Her medical team suggested she go to a pain management clinic.
Several days later, Abby Lee Miller returned to the hospital, barely able to move her arms, legs or jaw, and underwent emergency surgery. Her doctor “went to my spinal cord and meticulously pulled a slime, a tar-like substance, away from the spinal cord,” she said. It was complications she suffered during this surgery that have bound her to an electric wheelchair.
In May 2019, it was determined that Miller was cancer-free and began making good progress in her recovery. As of April 2021, she still has PET scans every three months to check for any recurrence.
She attends regular physical therapy sessions to build her strength back, but recently faced yet another obstacle as a result of a second spinal surgery she had in October 2020. The procedure caused two vertebrae fractures; she went through a third spinal surgery in November 2020 to rectify it.
Now, she said, “I can walk a couple steps with the walker, but I’m not where I was before September 30 (of 2020).”
Earlier this year, Miller sued Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton for $8.5 million in damages. She alleged that at the chain’s location in Santa Monica, Calif., a more than 300-pound door fell “directly” on top of her and trapped her in her wheelchair for about six to 12 minutes.
She also alleged that on other occasions unrelated to the falling door, hotel staff “ignored” her and did not help Miller’s wheelchair “accessibility needs when she contacted the front desk for assistance.” She was reportedly staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites for “an extended period of time,” from March and October 2020, according to Page Six.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Patients Recover After Cancer Surgery
Following cancer surgery, many people may assume that avoiding exercise is the way to go. However, starting a physical therapy routine, like Abby Lee Miller, can actually offer a huge benefit when it comes to recovery.
Dr. Angela Wicker-Ramos explains how a physical therapist can help patients recover after cancer treatment.
According to SurvivorNet experts, easing into exercise after surgery can improve your circulation; it improves your wound healing and the fluid movement through your body, helps soften any scar tissue that may be in the area (especially exercises that involve deep breathing or extending your chest and arms) and improves your endurance after surgery.
But it is important that people recognize their limits and do not strain their body too much, which is where a physical therapist comes in.
“Physical therapists can help with assessing any issues with range of motion, mobility, fatigue and balance, and then create a program that is very much a prescriptive program; so, a program that’s based on what you are at the time of your treatments,” Dr. Angela Wicker-Ramos, an oncology physical therapist for Cancer Rehab and Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas, previously told SurvivorNet.
Contributing: Joe Kerwin & Ann Oldenburg