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How Cancer and Prison Changed Abby Lee Miller: ‘I Don’t Fly Off the Handle as Quickly as I Did’ (Exclusive)

Abby Lee Miller has been through hell and back. After serving prison time for bankruptcy fraud, the Dance Moms star was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma. Now, she has been cancer-free for six months.

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“I feel grateful,” Miller, 53, told Us Weekly exclusively at Lifetime’s recent summer junket in West Hollywood. “I feel alive and thriving when I’m back in the [dance] studio and I get in my zone and I’m just doing my thing.”

So, how has cancer and prison changed the reality star? “I don’t think I get that upset over things,” she told Us. “It’s hard to deal with the moms, all of that’s hard, but I don’t fly off the handle as quickly as I did. … And when the kids don’t win, I’m like, ‘Yeah, but you were great.’”

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Abby Lee Miller attends the Lifetime’s Summer Luau at W Los Angeles – Westwood on May 20, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage

Another thing that has changed is Miller’s ability to get around. Her medical scare left her in a wheelchair, although her doctors hope she will regain her strength and walk again soon.

“It’s usually a year after your [spinal] surgery,” she explained. “But I’ve probably got another three months. We’ll see what happens with the knee surgery. I’m going to have knee surgery as soon as we wrap [season 8].”

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Fortunately, the dance instructor did not have trouble filming the Lifetime series in her wheelchair.

“It’s not difficult in the chair because I always sat there anyways, so that’s not a big deal,” she told Us. “What’s not good is while you’re shooting 12 hours a day, I’m not doing the exercises that I’m supposed to do. I’m missing lots of physical therapy appointments. … I’m not really taking care of myself like I did.”

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All in all, Miller thinks the future looks bright. “Much better,” she assured Us. “Either that or I’ll be living underneath the 405 in a box.”

Dance Moms season 8 premieres on Lifetime June 4 at 9 p.m. ET.

With reporting by Amanda Champagne

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