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Caring for Life

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

Gymnast Shannon Miller captivated the world on her way to Olympic gold. Now the seven-time Olympic medalist and women’s wellbeing advocate retains a further title: lengthy-expression cancer survivor. Miller claims that however cancer treatment method was 1 of the hardest elements of her life, her loved ones and wellbeing groups helped her reach restoration and keep constructive together the way.

When were being you identified with ovarian cancer?

In the fall of 2010, my doctor observed a baseball-sized cyst on my left ovary. On January 13, 2011, I woke up from surgical procedures to clear away the tumor to information that I had a uncommon kind of ovarian cancer. I was only 34.

Experienced you skilled any indications prior to finding the cyst?

It was not until soon after the diagnosis that I rethought my indications prior to that first doctor’s stop by. My partner reminded me that I had identified as him at operate a few of months right before mainly because I was doubled around on the ground with belly pain and was not absolutely sure I could get our one-calendar year-outdated son out of his crib.

I also understood that I had a few of the 4 major indications of ovarian cancer: bloating, weight decline, and pain. But I had totally created them off. I did not even recall them. That is why it is so essential for me to speak about this to ladies. As ladies, as moms, we have to have to pay attention to our bodies.

How did your abilities and encounter as a world-class gymnast assist you approach your cancer restoration?

As an athlete, I uncovered the importance of placing and sticking to goals and holding a constructive mind-set. Likely via chemotherapy was the hardest matter I have at any time had to do. Being in that constructive mindset was so vital. That doesn’t imply staying cheery 24/7. But I was attempting to search to the constructive and explain to myself that I could do this. I began placing achievable goals for myself. Even if it was as essential as walking all-around the dining home table twice. If I could do that, it was a acquire for the working day. Minimal by little, I was ready to do far more and get much better.

Even with this, I strike my low. I was having horrible nausea at 1 issue and could not keep anything down. I finished up back in the clinic. As I sat by yourself in my clinic home, I imagined, “I can’t do this. I don”t know how to do this.” Then a nurse arrived in to test on me. It brought back to me my encounter from gymnastics and the importance of having a team. From that minute ahead, I knew I had a team of wellbeing specialists, loved ones, and pals doing work with me to get via this.

How did you deal with staying a mother of a younger kid and restoration from cancer?

It does take a village when likely via a wellbeing disaster. I had to find out a rough lesson: I can’t do it all. And it’s Okay that I can’t do it all. I believe, normally, as mom and dad, we do every little thing. And I could not. Right after conversing with pals, I understood that if I did not aim on my own wellbeing and restoration, I was not likely to be any fantastic to my son. A single of the hardest and most essential issues we have to find out is to inquire for assist and settle for assist when it is made available.

What are your feelings about investigation like that supported by the Nationwide Institutes of Well being?

Analysis is so essential. We have to have a much better take a look at to recognize ovarian cancer earlier. We have to have to be much better educated.

As a 10-calendar year cancer survivor, what is your message to other ladies with cancer or those people who may possibly be at chance for it?

It is so essential to be conscious of your entire body and search out for indications and indications. Educate oneself and inquire concerns. You are your own most effective wellbeing care advocate. Just take inventory of your entire body. I paid notice to my entire body as an athlete, but I have paid a lot far more notice to my wellbeing in the last 10 decades. I took fantastic wellbeing for granted.

Last but not least, really don’t be fearful to speak up about it. Try out to uncover other individuals who have long gone via this. When I listened to from other survivors, it created me truly feel much less by yourself, and that is definitely essential.