LIFESTYLE

"I Couldn’t Open A Bottle Of Water": Shannon Miller Recalls Her Ovarian Cancer Struggles And Post-Chemo Symptoms. 7 Years Later, She Feels Better Than Ever!

Date August 21, 2018 10:46

Shannon Miller's brave battle with ovarian cancer

Shannon Miller is, without a doubt, one of the most accomplished gymnasts in U.S. history. She is a seven-time Olympic medalist; many gymnastics enthusiasts still remember her spectacular performance at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Miller is also known as an ovarian cancer survivor and a vocal advocate for awareness about this often-deadly disease.

READ ALSO: Could It Be Ovarian Cancer? A 40-Year-Old Shares Several Subtle Signs Of The Sneaky Disease

After Miller retired from gymnastics, she started her own company called Shannon Miller Lifestyle. Back in late 2010, Miller was so busy with work and family life, she almost skipped her regular check-up. In an interview for the American Cancer Society, she said:

I started thinking – I was working in the health field interviewing physicians for my weekly radio show talking about early detection, and I thought ‘I’m not setting a good example by skipping an exam.’

That decision saved her life. Miller’s gynecologist detected a baseball-sized growth in one of her ovaries, and it turned out to be cancerous.

Going in for her exam, Miller told her doctor she felt fine. But in hindsight, she realized she had actually had signs and symptoms, such as bloating and stomach ache, but she had shrugged them off.

Fortunately, the cancer was caught early. Miller had surgery to remove the affected ovary and the fallopian tube on that side, and, after that, she had to endure 9 weeks of aggressive chemo. The treatment left Miller struggling with its usual side effects: nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue, hair loss, and neuropathy. Some of the symptoms lingered after the chemo was over. Miller recalled:

I thought I was going to have all my energy back, that my hair would grow back. I expected to feel better. But the neuropathy in my hands was so bad, I couldn’t open a bottle of water. I felt like each limb weighed a thousand pounds and I could barely will myself to get out of bed. When I was in Olympic training 7 days a week, I never felt this kind of fatigue.

In June 2011, doctors declared Miller cancer-free.

READ ALSO: Kathy Bates Survived Both Ovarian Cancer And Breast Cancer, But Now She Has To Deal With A Serious Complication Her Treatment Caused

Life after cancer treatment

Miller was afraid that her cancer treatment affected her fertility and it would be harder for her to have another baby. But, a year after her cancer battle was over, Miller learned she was pregnant. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She said in an interview with Women’s Health:

It happened a lot quicker than we thought. It was such a blessing. My daughter is amazing.

These days, Miller is happy and cancer-free. She and her husband are raising two amazing children, son Rocco and daughter Sterling. Miller also dedicates much of her time to raising awareness about ovarian cancer. She is involved with several charities, and she also wrote a book about her road to success in sports and her battle with the disease. She said in an interview for the American Cancer Society:

I use whatever voice I have from my Olympic career to encourage women to keep medical appointments, get more sleep, eat right, get and stay fit, and recognize the signs and symptoms of cancer.

Miller emerged from her ordeal with a completely new outlook. In the same interview, she said:

The biggest lesson I learned was how much I needed to appreciate every day. No matter where you are in your journey, you can take that day and do your best with it. I used to fly through life. I didn’t take time to savor it. I was always go, go, go. Now I understand the importance of really taking time to appreciate every moment.

It’s good to know there are ovarian cancer survivors like Shannon Miller who are willing to share their stories and educate other women. Thanks to their work, more women are aware of the disease and get their regular check-ups.

Don’t skip your regular gynecological exams, ladies! One day, it may save your life.

READ ALSO: Girl Who Was Diagnosed With Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer Revealed One Subtle Symptom Of The Disease She Ignored