Abby Lee Miller, the 52-year-old acclaimed dance instructor and choreographer who stars in the wildly popular Lifetime reality TV series, “Dance Moms,” is cancer-free, but her medical and physical challenges remain. She’s confined to a wheelchair, and on top of that, she’s recovering from a knee replacement. In spite of it all, she’s still dancing.Read More
Abby Lee Miller’s Cancer Journey
Last year, Miller, who founded “Abby Lee Dance Company” and “Reign Dance Productions,” underwent an emergency surgery on her spine, which revealed she had a cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The surgery also left her unable to walk, and she has been confined to a wheelchair since.
Fortunately, Abby Lee Miller is now cancer-free. She was treated with ten rounds of chemotherapy and is still undergoing physical rehab to regain her ability to walk.
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One year ago today ~ I underwent emergency surgery for an infection in my spine. This mass/tumor choking my spinal cord turned out to be Burkitt Lymphoma. I endured ten rounds of chemo therapy (each lasting 6 days with 4/ 24hr bags pumping poison into my body ending with a spinal tap in 3 spots, plus another shot of Chemo into my tailbone area up the spinal cord around my brain cavity) Ten times! Another spine surgery was needed & I have one more still to go. I struggled thru months of physical therapy to learn to sit up again, to crawl and maybe with a miracle someday I’ll walk. Why didn’t the ER Doctors on duty do their jobs? I came in twice with the same symptoms? Why didn’t somebody listen to me, the patient? I finally found the right team that’s why I lived to tell my story, I have a lot to say! Thank you to all wonderful top notch professionals who continue to help me heal. For those who missed it, misdiagnosed me, and the so called Federal “Doctor” who took me off medication cold turkey and the other ER “Doctor Hollywood” who told me to go home and take it easy for 10 days – STOP practicing! Please ????????
Burkitt Lymphoma, A Rare But Aggressive Type of Blood Cancer
In a conversation that was not specific to Miller’s cancer, Dr. Catherine Diefenbach, Director of Translational Hematology and Clinical Lymphoma at NYU Langone Health and the Perlmutter Cancer Center, previously explained that “Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is not one disease, it’s many diseases.” There are over 68 types of lymphoma, and that includes Burkitt lymphoma, which is a rare yet aggressive cancer that begins in the immune B-cells (in the bone marrow) and has been known to spread to the jaw, central nervous system, bowel, kidneys, ovaries, and other organs.
Treatment varies across different lymphoma types, which is why Dr. Diefenbach said “it’s very important that you’re treated by a lymphoma specialist,” to determine the best treatment regimen—which in Miller’s case was chemotherapy and surgery.
Miller Wasn’t A Stranger to Medical Challenges
Before her emergency surgery and cancer treatment, Miller faced a myriad of other health problems, which were further complicated by some of the circumstances in her life.
In 2017, she opted to get gastric bypass surgery to help her on her weight loss journey. At the time, as Women’s Day reports, Miller was on a mission to improve her health following a diabetes diagnosis. She put on diabetes medication and was focusing on achieving a healthy weight.
A month after Miller’s gastric bypass surgery, though, Miller was sentenced to a year in prison for bankruptcy and fraud. In an interview with People last month, Miller shared that during her time in prison, she went off her diabetes medication “cold turkey” at the recommendation of the prison doctors.
The star now believes that abruptly stopping the medication caused some of her subsequent health conditions. “To go off if it cold turkey, that’s what caused all of this,” Miller told People’s Jeremy Parsons. “That’s what caused all of this. That what cause the blood in the lab reports to look so crazy. I had the doctor say to me, ‘I can’t believe you’re walking in here, you should be in a coma right now, the way your lab results look.’” (There is no medical evidence of a link between going off diabetes medication and Burkitt lymphoma, however.)
Recovering From Cancer—Then A Knee Replacement
Last month, Miller posted an Instagram video of her swollen knee (with a long scar down the middle), which she captioned, “Drum roll please… The big reveal!!! So what do you all think? Do you have any Battle Scars? Isn’t there a better name? Really? God only gave you two knees protect them with proper alignment and wear knee pads when learning floor work!”
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Drum roll please… The big reveal!!! So what do you all think? Do you have any Battle Scars? Isn’t there a better name? Really? God only gave you two knees protect them with proper alignment and wear knee pads when learning floor work! . . . . #dancemoms #season8 #aldcla #aldc #abbyleedancecompany #abbyleemiller #abbylee
The Instagram post came after a total knee replacement surgery, which Miller said she had been putting off for eight years. It will be a while before she is back on her feet again—and Miller’s recovery has been painful—but the star is still doing what she’s passionate about: teaching dance.
This past week, Miller also shared a photo of two of her dance students who visited her during her recovery, captioned, “Thanks for coming to visit!!! You two are always full of mischief – you took my mind off the pain and made me laugh!”
Remarkably, even with her many medical challenges, Miller is still working: she returned to “Dance Moms” for its eighth season last month. The series is now called “Dance Moms: Resurrection”—a title that may very well resonate with Miller herself as she rebounds from the incredible challenges she’s faced these past few years.