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What Is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma? Abby Lee Miller Is Diagnosed With Blood Cancer

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What Is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma? Abby Lee Miller Is Diagnosed With Blood Cancer

One day after undergoing an emergency spinal surgery, Abby Lee Miller learned she may have non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells called lymphocytes.

Her surgeon Dr. Hooman Melamed of Cedar Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital confirmed to multiple sources that he preliminarily diagnosed the Dance Moms star with Burkitt lymphoma, a rare but highly aggressive version that can also impact the central nervous system, jaw, bowel, kidneys, ovaries, or other organs.

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When functioning normally, lymphocytes defend the body against bacteria and viruses as they travel through the bloodstream and lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout your body.

In lymphoma, the most common type of blood cancer, a mutation in the cells cause them to replicate faster or live longer. The tumors can then spread and grow in many parts of the body, according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is the most common type, with approximately 80,000 people in the United States receiving this diagnosis each year. Hodgkin lymphoma is rarer and different in that those patients test positive for Reed-Sternberg cells, which are abnormally large lymphocytes.

Experts estimate there are at least 86 types of NHL, but the most common signs include swollen lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and lack of energy. People will often go the to the doctor thinking they have the cold or flu, but most patients with these non-specific symptoms will not have lymphoma.

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In Abby Lee Miller’s case, she went to the emergency room experiencing “excruciating neck pain” and weakness. Not long afterwards, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down.

Worried about a possible infection, Dr. Melamed then performed an emergency laminectomy on Tuesday to remove pressure on her spinal cord. “If we didn’t do something, she was going to die,” Dr. Melamed told People of the four-hour procedure. “Her blood pressure was bottoming out. She was not doing well.”

Miller regained some feeling in her extremities, but soon learned that cancer potentially caused her terrifying health scare.

“Abby is devastated, but is strong and trying to put on a brave face,” an anonymous source told Us Weekly. “She is still at [the hospital], and they are seeing what the next steps are. She will make it through this.”

abby lee miller 2018
Abby Lee Miller is seen on March 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, two weeks before entering the hospital.

Getty ImagesBG015/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Dr. Melamed revealed that an oncologist will help create a treatment plan for the reality star, potentially including chemotherapy, radiation, or more surgery, but her medical team is still awaiting additional test results. He also confirmed to People that the source of the cancer remains unknown.

“This is probably coming from somewhere else,” he said. “We don’t know where the source is. Any tumor that spreads anywhere is automatically Stage 4, but we have not determined the stage yet.”

Miller, who appeared on the Lifetime reality TV series Dance Moms for seven seasons, recently spent eight months in federal prison for felony bankruptcy fraud. She had since moved into a halfway house in Los Angeles to serve the remainder of her 366-day sentence .

Undergoing a gastric bypass surgery before the judgement, she reportedly lost around 100 pounds during her stay. The choreographer was also recently hospitalized for a thyroid condition.

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