Abby Lee Miller is walking again — and the little steps she took across the stage on “The Doctors” made for an incredibly emotional moment.
The 52-year-old “Dance Moms” star has been confined to a wheelchair ever since April 2018, when she underwent an emergency surgery on her spine, revealing that the acclaimed dance instructor had a rare cancer called Burkitt lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.READ MORE
On the recent episode of “The Doctors,” a day-time health talk show that often features celebrity guest, Miller slowly stood up, and, with the help of a walker, took several very small steps on stage. The audience applauded her, and in the caption to a clip of the moment she shared on Instagram, Miller wrote about how emotional she felt.
“Watching this made me cry!,” Miller wrote. “Thank you @thedoctorstv for letting me share my story with the world! Dr Lawrence Piro, Dr Hooman Mellomed, Dr Christopher Boudakian, Dr Simoni for your wisdom and kindness. My PT was so amazing, CRI is the best! I’m not nearly as strong as I was during this taping. I have a long way to go – if there’s 1 thing I know, it’s that I’m a fighter and there’s no such thing as ‘can’t’!”
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Watching this made me cry! Thank you @thedoctorstv for letting me share my story with the world! Dr Lawrence Piro, Dr Hooman Mellomed, Dr Christopher Boudakian, Dr Simoni for your wisdom and kindness. My PT was so amazing, CRI is the best! I’m not nearly as strong as I was during this taping. I have a long way to go – if there’s 1 thing I know, it’s that I’m a fighter and there’s no such thing as “can’t”! . . . . . #thebestisyettocome #aldcla #aldcstrong #aldc #abbylee #abbyleemiller #cancer #lymphoma ##theangelesclinic #thespinepro
On the same episode of “The Doctors,” Dr. Lawrence Piro, an oncologist and the President and CEO of The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute (an affiliate of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Canter) said, “The minute Abby was in remission, she took off, trying to get her life back.” Miller smiled and nodded her head at this, as Dr. Piro continued, “right after we finished (treatment) she took off to Pittsburgh to film a new season of ‘Dance Moms.’ And she was running at full-tilt doing it all.'”
Dr. Piro shared that, although Miller is in remission for her cancer, 10-20 percent of people with Burkitt lymphoma experience a recurrence (meaning their cancer comes back), indicating that Miller will need to be closely monitored.
Abby Lee’s Cancer Journey Has Been Challenging Both Physically and Emotionally
After the back surgery that left her in a wheelchair last year, Miller shared that the doctors who operated on her spine had found that there was a cancerous tumor wrapped around her spinal cord, which Miller described as “choking” her spine. The cancer diagnosis was hard on Miller, but in an interview with “Good Morning America” back in May, she shared that it was a blessing that she had the surgery—and found the cancer—when she did.
“I would have been dead,” Miller said.” I was paralyzed from the neck down—no movement. Because this cancer—this lymphoma—was choking my spinal cord.”
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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 ????????
Cancer treatment varies across different lymphoma types, and in Miller’s case was chemotherapy and surgery. After her back surgery, Miller underwent six rounds of chemotherapy.
In June, the “Dance Moms” star appeared in her mechanical wheelchair on an interview with E! News’ “Daily Pop,” during which she opened up about the challenges of her cancer journey and the emotional effects that the past year have had on her. One of the challenging questions posed to Miller during the interview was whether she now had to ask for help—and whether she had trouble doing so.
“I still do everything!” Miller said defensively. But she also shared that she had learned to rely on other people—including strangers—to grab things for her, hold doors, and navigate areas that are not accessible to people in wheelchairs.
“These are perfect strangers…and yet, I rely on them all the time,” Miller said. “It renews your faith in humankind and that people are genuinely nice and helpful.”
Going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment is difficult on its own—but we know from survivors that even after beating cancer, hurdles often remain, including dealing with lingering physical limitations, returning to work, and navigating dicey relationships with people who might not understand the nuances of a cancer journey. While Miller has shared that she is cancer-free, her journey isn’t over.