Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller: Accepting help was essential to ovarian cancer recovery

Gymnast Shannon Miller captivated the globe on her way to Olympic gold. Now the seven-time Olympic medalist and women’s well being advocate retains an additional title: long-term most cancers survivor. Miller suggests that while most cancers remedy was one particular of the most difficult components of her life, her family and well being teams served her reach recovery and stay constructive together the way.

When were being you identified with ovarian most cancers?

In the tumble of 2010, my medical doctor found a baseball-sized cyst on my still left ovary. On January thirteen, 2011, I woke up from surgical treatment to remove the tumor to information that I had a rare variety of ovarian most cancers. I was only 34.

Experienced you professional any signs and symptoms prior to discovering the cyst?

It was not right until after the analysis that I rethought my signs and symptoms prior to that first doctor’s check out. My husband reminded me that I had named him at get the job done a couple of months just before simply because I was doubled around on the floor with belly discomfort and was not absolutely sure I could get our one-yr-previous son out of his crib.

I also understood that I had 3 of the 4 major signs and symptoms of ovarian most cancers: bloating, fat decline, and discomfort. But I had absolutely prepared them off. I didn’t even remember them. That is why it is so critical for me to converse about this to girls. As girls, as moms, we will need to hear to our bodies.

How did your skills and experience as a globe-class gymnast help you solution your most cancers recovery?

As an athlete, I realized the significance of location and sticking to targets and keeping a constructive attitude. Likely by way of chemotherapy was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Remaining in that constructive mindset was so vital. That won’t mean staying cheery 24/7. But I was hoping to glance to the constructive and convey to myself that I could do this. I begun location achievable targets for myself. Even if it was as primary as going for walks around the eating space desk two times. If I could do that, it was a get for the day. Small by minimal, I was capable to do a lot more and get stronger.

Even with this, I strike my low. I was obtaining terrible nausea at one particular issue and could not maintain everything down. I finished up back in the clinic. As I sat alone in my clinic space, I believed, “I cannot do this. I don”t know how to do this.” Then a nurse arrived in to verify on me. It introduced back to me my experience from gymnastics and the significance of obtaining a crew. From that moment forward, I knew I had a crew of well being professionals, family, and close friends functioning with me to get by way of this.

How did you take care of staying a mom of a younger boy or girl and recovery from most cancers?

It does acquire a village when likely by way of a well being crisis. I had to learn a hard lesson: I cannot do it all. And it is really Okay that I cannot do it all. I assume, the natural way, as mother and father, we do every thing. And I could not. Following chatting with close friends, I understood that if I didn’t target on my have well being and recovery, I was not likely to be any great to my son. One particular of the most difficult and most critical items we have to learn is to ask for help and settle for help when it is supplied.

What are your ideas about investigation like that supported by the National Institutes of Overall health?

Exploration is so very important. We will need a improved take a look at to identify ovarian most cancers earlier. We will need to be improved educated.

As a ten-yr most cancers survivor, what is your concept to other girls with most cancers or those who might be at danger for it?

It is so critical to be aware of your physique and glance out for indications and signs and symptoms. Teach on your own and ask questions. You are your have greatest well being treatment advocate. Consider inventory of your physique. I paid attention to my physique as an athlete, but I have paid much a lot more attention to my well being in the very last ten many years. I took great well being for granted.

Eventually, don’t be fearful to talk up about it. Test to uncover many others who have gone by way of this. When I listened to from other survivors, it designed me sense less alone, and that is really critical.