- ‘Dance Moms’ star Abby Lee Miller is now cancer-free and finished her 10th and final round of chemotherapy as of April 2019.
- Abby has been chronicling her treatment for Burkitt lymphoma ever since she was diagnosed back in April 2018. She has continued rehabilitation treatment all through 2019 to be able to walk again after her spinal surgery and cancer treatment.
- Burkitt lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is a cancer that starts in the white blood cells and can be lethal within weeks without treatment.
After a rough couple of years that included a prison sentence and rare cancer diagnosis, Abby Lee Miller is on the mend and relying on others to coach her now. It’s taken months for Abby to get where she is now, able to walk 86 steps with an assistive device, according to a recent ‘Motivation Monday’ Instagram video she posted.She filmed the entirety of Dance Moms: Resurrection (the eighth season of the show, that aired on Lifetime in June), but she’s still working hard to get healthy and be able to walk again after her treatment for Burkitt lymphoma, a rare type of cancer that affected her spine.
Abby shared a video on Instagram of herself this past November in a Neuro-Physical Therapy rehabilitation center in L.A., and she is still on a pretty regular physical therapy schedule to try to regain her strength.
Apparently all that PT is paying off. Just a few weeks ago, Abby shared a video of herself actually dancing again at physical therapy (she was doing jazz hands).Pretty damn amazing, given that she’s been largely wheelchair-bound after being diagnosed.
Wait a minute, tell me more about Abby’s cancer diagnosis.
Abby was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, in April 2018, following emergency spinal surgery. From there, it’s been a long, winding road of treatment for Abby, who also had to learn how to walk again after two emergency surgeries on her spine, in addition to her chemotherapy, according to ET Online.
In October 2018, Abby completed her ninth round of chemotherapy (and celebrated by posing a video of herself on Instagram doing flutter kicks). “Hallelujah! 9 down 1 to go!” she wrote.
Abby’s stayed pretty positive on social media amidst her dramatic health struggles. “After the second surgery, my back is finally on the mend. I just wish the top section and bottom would hurry along too!” she wrote on Instagram in June 2018, showing off her surgical scars. “I had 52 staples perfectly aligned and now a bunch of crazy stitches are holding my neck and lumbar region together!”
Previously, she shared a selfie from her hospital bed after being labeled a “fall risk.” “If I could fall, I would crawl to the mall!” she joked.
But it hasn’t been all lighthearted: In August 2018, Abby suffered a setback in her treatment when she came down with a high fever accompanied by a low white blood cell count. “Pray 🙏🏻 my white blood cell count goes up and my 103 fever goes down!” she wrote in an Instagram post.
She announced that she had finished her tenth chemo treatment in April 2019, the one-year anniversary of her spinal surgery, with a photo on Instagram. In May 2019, she shared that she was cancer-free and continuing rehab to learn to walk again.
What exactly is Burkitt lymphoma?
In case you’re not familiar with it, Burkitt lymphoma is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
With Burkitt lymphoma, the cancer usually starts in a person’s abdomen, where it forms a large tumor. It can spread rapidly to the brain and spinal fluid. It is very rare, according to the ACS—making up just 1 to 2 percent of all lymphomas.
“Burkitt lymphoma is very aggressive,” says Jack Jacoub, MD, a medical oncologist and medical director of MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif. “It can be lethal in a matter of weeks with no therapy.” Luckily, the ACS says that more than half of patients can be cured by “intensive chemotherapy.”
For Abby’s specific type of cancer, treatment generally involves undergoing chemotherapy cycles for four to five months, Jacoub says. That can include chemotherapy injections into the spine as well as intravenous chemo.
Has Abby had any side effects from her cancer or chemotherapy?
Around the same time as her second surgery, Abby also started her third round of chemotherapy—and took a moment to say goodbye to her hair in an Instagram post, writing “HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW…” along with the hashtag #chemo.
Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, according to the ACS, and occurs when chemotherapy drugs damage the hair follicles. Sometimes hair only falls out on a person’s head, though hair loss can also happen in the pubic area, as well as on the arms and legs; eyebrows and eyelashes may be affected too.
Abby also had to be cautious in the sunlight due to her chemotherapy. “Going outside to feel the sun on my face was wonderful!!!” she wrote on Instagram in early June 2018. “Kids, never take anything in this world for granted! It can all change so suddenly! The Brilliant Dr. B cleared me for sunning this afternoon! Woo Hoo! Thank you sir!”
Jacoub says people who undergo chemo can burn a lot easier and quicker than others. He adds that doctors usually advise patients not receive direct, prolonged sun exposure for several weeks after their last chemotherapy session. However, it’s probably okay to briefly grab a few rays here and there.
Here’s hoping Abby continues to feel like showing off her dance skills on Instagram!
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