Abby Lee Miller of “Dance Moms” fame is speaking out this week to open up about the emergency surgery she had in 2018 after doctors found a mass infection putting pressure on her spine, which was causing her severe pain. Afterwards, Miller was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Miller became emotional as she talked about the moment she went into surgery, and when she thought she had already died.
“I remember saying to the anesthesiologist, ‘Just tell me I’m gonna see you when I wake up,’ and he said, ‘I can’t tell you that, ma’am,'” said Miller, 55. “That’s when I knew, and then I heard [Dr. Melamed] say something that I didn’t know, he said, ‘Get the theater ready, I’m going in,’ and I didn’t know that the operating room was called the theater and I thought I died. I’m dead already. You know, I can still hear them talking.”
Dr. Melamed said he was determined not to lose Miller on the operating table.
“I was like, ‘You know what, not on my watch. It’s not happening,'” he recalled. “I said, ‘We’re going in.’ I called my wife, I said, ‘Honey, I’m not coming home tonight.’ I said, ‘I’m gonna be there all night. I’m gonna be operating. I’m not coming home tonight. This is not gonna happen on my watch. I don’t care what it takes. I’m gonna do whatever it takes,’ so I was optimistic that we were gonna save her. That’s how I always like to look at it.”
Even so, Miller has shockingly admitted that during her difficult recovery, there were times that she wishes she had not made it.
“This is weird but there are days that I wish that I would’ve died,” she said. “I know there’s people out there fighting every day for their lives, yes, but it’s been rough. It’s not easy to live in a wheelchair. It’s not easy, especially in California. It’s very difficult to be handicapped … that’s why I need to walk.”
While Miller is cancer free these days, she still has pain in her lower back from being in the wheelchair, and she can’t do the physical therapy that she needs because of COVID-19.
“I am walking, little baby steps, and I should be walking a lot,” she said. “I can do about 150 steps before I have to take a rest and I don’t need to sit down, I just need to stop and rest. It’s mostly my arms because I’m putting so much weight and so much pressure into my arms to walk that I don’t trust my legs because I can’t feel the floor.”
Miller broke down as she talked about going through her recovery alone, noting that she doesn’t have 24-hour care since she can’t afford it.
“Just, you know, it’s a good day when you can bend over and get your pants on,” she said. “It’s rough. I have to save my tears for the car.”
Miller is living in a hotel right now so that she can call the front desk for help when she needs it.
“Sometimes I’ll, you know, I’ll hire a young girl or maybe a PT student to come,” she said. “It’s sad. I’ve been trying to get back to Florida to my house and my life there since March 13. And because of my doctors recommending that I don’t travel, that I don’t fly until I get the vaccine, until we know that it’s working safely, I’ve been quarantined here, alone, you know, in a hotel.”
While Miller hopes to return to television, she would like it to be behind the scenes.
“I have an amazing young adult show with a paranormal twist to it that is in the works, and I also have a new reality show, two shows,” she revealed. “One is more prison-related about what happens when you get out of prison, and it’s just killer, it’s amazing, the show. And there’s nothing like it on TV … and it would be incredible. And then there’s been talks of me coming back and doing a show with the [dance] students, no moms, but with the dancers themselves, the teenagers. … We’ll go at it, each other, they don’t need mom anymore.”
“I hope and I dream and I’m creative and I love the creative process,” Miller added. “I love the costuming and the music and the choreography, I love that part of it all. And I think there’s still a niche for me, but who knows?”