Abby Lee Miller has been through hell and back. After serving prison time for bankruptcy fraud, the Dance Moms star was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma. Now, she has been cancer-free for six months.
“I feel grateful,” Miller, 53, told Us Weekly exclusively at Lifetime’s recent summer junket in West Hollywood. “I feel alive and thriving when I’m back in the [dance] studio and I get in my zone and I’m just doing my thing.”
So, how has cancer and prison changed the reality star? “I don’t think I get that upset over things,” she told Us. “It’s hard to deal with the moms, all of that’s hard, but I don’t fly off the handle as quickly as I did. … And when the kids don’t win, I’m like, ‘Yeah, but you were great.’”
Another thing that has changed is Miller’s ability to get around. Her medical scare left her in a wheelchair, although her doctors hope she will regain her strength and walk again soon.
“It’s usually a year after your [spinal] surgery,” she explained. “But I’ve probably got another three months. We’ll see what happens with the knee surgery. I’m going to have knee surgery as soon as we wrap [season 8].”
Fortunately, the dance instructor did not have trouble filming the Lifetime series in her wheelchair.
“It’s not difficult in the chair because I always sat there anyways, so that’s not a big deal,” she told Us. “What’s not good is while you’re shooting 12 hours a day, I’m not doing the exercises that I’m supposed to do. I’m missing lots of physical therapy appointments. … I’m not really taking care of myself like I did.”
All in all, Miller thinks the future looks bright. “Much better,” she assured Us. “Either that or I’ll be living underneath the 405 in a box.”
Dance Moms season 8 premieres on Lifetime June 4 at 9 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Amanda Champagne