Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller surprised viewers of The Doctors on Monday when she got out of her wheelchair and took a few steps across the stage.
Miller, 52, who has used a wheelchair since April 2018, appeared on the daytime talk show to discuss her difficult medical journey that brought her to the brink of death. After serving eight months in prison for financial fraud, the dance teacher was diagnosed with spinal Burkitt Lymphoma, a rare but aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which initially left her paralyzed from the neck down. Miller underwent multiple spinal surgeries and 10 rounds of chemotherapy before announcing in May of this year that she's cancer-free.
On The Doctors, Miller discussed her family history of cancer, noting that both her parents died from the disease — her mother of colon cancer and her father of esophageal cancer. "I knew that I would have cancer, but I never thought at 52," Miller said. She also delved into the extremely low depths that the toll of her diseases brought her down too, saying that, at times, she wished she was dead.
"When you're that close to death, dying is easy. It's very serious, but it's easy," she said. "You're laying there, filled with drugs, they're pumping everything they can into you to keep you alive, you're so out of it you don't even know." She then added with her signature cutting humor, "I don't know what the afterlife holds, but I might have been, you know, skinny and fabulous in the afterlife, I don't know. But they saved me and I'm here so I have to do the best that I can and I lay in that hospital bed or in rehab and I lay there and I watch TV and I see all of these bad cartwheels in these commercials and there's so much more work for me to do."
Miller explained that she underwent a knee replacement surgery in July to help with her ability to do her rehab work, which she has resumed doing four times a day for the past three weeks. With encouragement from the live studio audience, Miller, using a walker, publicly took her first steps in a year and a half, and even went so far as to show she could stand hands-free. The clearly emotional experience for Miller appeared to leave audience members in awe and inspired.
Miller was joined by her team of doctors on the show who confirmed that she is still in remission and is on a great track to recovery with her spine currently being stable, but said that Burkitt lymphoma has roughly a 10 to 20% chance of recurrence.
Miller says that she hopes that by sharing her story, she'll be able to reach women who may be experiencing early symptoms of cancer but have not yet sought out medical attention.
“I want to be an advocate and come to The Doctors and tell you my story because I think women they take care of their children first," Miller said. "You know, if your kid hurts their ankle or their knee, you’re right there. You take care of your husbands, you take care of your parents, your own adult parents that are elderly, you never take care of yourself and I think it’s important for women, if they know something’s wrong, get it checked out.”