It was originally believed that Miller, 51, was suffering from an infection in her spine, but her orthopedic surgeon claims it was actually cancer causing her excruciating neck and back pain, as well as weakness in one of her arms.
“It was not an infection, it was a type of a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma … We’re getting an oncologist involved and we have to figure out what the next steps are as far as chemotherapy or radiation or more spine surgery,” Dr. Hooman Melamed, who is treating the star, told People on Wednesday night.
“There’s a chance this can spread to any part of the body … this is probably coming from somewhere else,” he added. “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.”
Burkitt’s lymphoma is a cancer that grows in immune system cells called B-cells. It is one of the fastest-growing tumors in humans; if left untreated, Burkitt’s lymphoma can be quickly fatal, according to WedMD.
Dr. Melamed says that Miller’s surgery took four hours.
Afterward, she began her recovery in the intensive care unit, where she began to feel some sensation again. However, Dr. Melamed noted that Miller is “still not out of the woods.”
“She’s made some recovery in 24 hours, which is better than no recovery. Nobody wants to end up thinking they’re going to be paralyzed for the rest of their life,” Dr. Melamed said. “That’s a reality that’s facing all of these patients going into it. All you can do is pray and, as a surgeon, you maximize everything you can for the spinal cord to recover itself. I am hopeful.”
Last week, Miller was hospitalized for a thyroid condition.
The troubled children’s choreographer, who spent 259 days in prison for bankruptcy fraud, is slated to spend the remainder of her 366-day sentence in a halfway house.