Why Is Abby Lee Miller in a Wheelchair? The ‘Dance Moms’ Star Plans to Walk Again

Dance Moms fans who tune in to the Season 8 premiere on Tuesday night will see a different Abby Lee Miller than the one they remember.

The last new episodes of Dance Moms aired in 2017. Since then, the tough-as-nails dance teacher has since spent time in prison on fraud charges and has battled cancer. Today, she’s in a wheelchair, though she promises that her health problems don’t mean she’s going to go easy on her young dancers.

“Well, I think the audience is going to think I’ve mellowed [but] maybe I just don’t care enough,” she told ET recently. “It might not be mellow, it might just be ‘Eh. You’re not that talented, kiddo, move over.'”

The health crisis that put her in a wheelchair

Some people wrote Miller off after her legal problems started piling up and she quit Dance Moms. But when the reality TV star went to prison in the summer of 2017, she was already planning her comeback, she told ET.

“I was dancing all the time [in prison],” she said. “ I was excited to get out of prison and, like, set the world on fire and be up dancing and moving and, you know, and I felt so much better and healthier and then [the cancer diagnosis] happened.”

Shortly before Miller was scheduled to be released from a halfway house, she began experiencing serious pain in her neck. She went in for emergency surgery, and at one point, doctors weren’t sure they’d be able to save her.

“We have 10 minutes or we’re going to lose her,” Miller recalled the doctor saying as she reflected on her health crisis during a recent conversation with People.

It turned out that Miller had Burkitt lymphoma, a kind of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She started treatment, which she documented publicly, in part because she wanted to show other women how important it is to take their health seriously.

“I just feel women today don’t really take care of themselves,” she told ET. “They might get Botox and their hair done and their nails done, but when it comes to their health, I think they take care of their children first, they take care of their husbands when they’re sick. And they might be in pain or feel an ache or see a spot and [say], ‘eh, it’s nothing. I’ll wait a couple of months and see what happens. And you can’t.”

While Miller is now cancer-free, her illness left her confined to a wheelchair — at least for now.

Miller says she’s going to walk again

Abby Lee Miller
Abby Lee Miller | Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Currently, Miller is in a wheelchair. But she’s hopeful that with further rehabilitation and surgery, she’ll soon be walking again.

Miller explained that she’s needed knee replacement surgery for several years. Once she gets that done, she’ll be in a position to start walking on her own.

“The physical therapists … they are convinced that once I get this right knee taken care of, I will be walking again,” she told People.

“I feel like now, I’m going to do it,” she added. “I was close before, but then we went back to Pittsburgh to start shooting the show and it was the holidays, and it’s kind of taken a back seat, my therapy. And now that we’ve wrapped and we’re finished shooting Season 8 I can concentrate on me, myself, and I. So I plan to have the knee surgery in July and be walking by September.”

While Miller says that she’s still the same person she’s always been, she admits that her health crisis has made her more willing to ask other people for help and more appreciative of others. And she says she also has more positive feelings for the show that made her famous.

“After coming close to death’s door, I appreciate Lifetime a bit more,” she told ET.  

Dance Moms Season 8 premieres June 4 at 9/8c on Lifetime.