If you've ever seen Lifetime's show Dance Moms, you know that Abby Lee Miller is a fighter. The founder and instructor of Abby Lee Dance Company and star of the beloved reality show is known for her tough love and hyper-competitive approach to coaching, an attitude she had to really lean into after she was diagnosed with cancer last year. Abby sat down with Women's Health to explain exactly how she keep her play-to-win spirit up throughout her cancer journey, and how other women in a similar situation can do the same.
Abby battled Burkitt lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that impacts immune cells, coupled with other health issues such as diabetes and hypothyroidism, beginning in April 2018. After an invasive spinal surgery left her in a wheelchair, she says she's had to adjust to a less-mobile lifestyle. But the great news? She's currently cancer-free.
When Abby initially started experiencing symptoms of her cancer, like severe neck pain and a numb jaw, she says she was dismissed by several doctors before she got the treatment she needed. Luckily, she's not one to give up or take no for an answer—and she urges other people dealing with health problems to follow suit.
For instance, if you're facing a serious diagnosis and are overwhelmed by the landslide of information you're being told, Abby suggests audio recording your visits with your doctors on your phone. She was disoriented when she was first told she had cancer, and had trouble processing the information she was given; being allowed to record helps her feel more comfortable. "If they tell you no, find another doctor," she advises in the video.
Above all, Abby stresses, you have to take care of yourself the same way you would take care of your partner, children and parents, which means advocating for yourself when doctors aren't listening to you. "When you know that there's a pain that's so significant, that is so traumatic, you have to do something about it, you have to find answers," she says. Knowing her own body—and speaking up when something wasn't right—is what helped her get a diagnosis and the help she needed.
Check out the full vid for the rest of her advice—she touches on everything from how to shop for wigs after chemo to staying strong in the face of a health crisis.
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