Former Olympic Gymnast Shannon Miller Recounts Games, Battle with Cancer

RICHMOND (WRIC) – All eyes are on Sochi for the 22nd Winter Olympics.

8News anchor Amy Lacey sat down with one of our country's best, gymnast Shannon Miller.

Miller is a wife, mother and businesswoman now, but she is also a Former Olympian most known for being the most decorated gymnast — male or female — in U-S history.

“It's just an exciting time and it's hard to explain but it is life changing in so many ways,” she says. “To be able to slip on that red, white and blue jacket and go out and represent something so much bigger than yourself, you're representing your country it is amazing.”

In 1992 at the Barcelona games, Miller won five medals — more than any other American athlete. Four years later on home soil in Atlanta, she won an individual gold for the balance beam and led the famed “magnificent seven” to the first-ever U.S. women's gymnastics team gold.

“I usually I keep [the medals] in a safe deposit box, but I've been trying to bring them to more events.  People love to see them.”

The 36-year-old brought them to Richmond at a VCU Massey Cancer Center women and wellness event.

Miller's been retired from the mat for 18 years and now runs her own health and fitness company. She keeps in touch with her Olympic teammates and cheers on the new generation of athletes that is Team USA.

“I'll definitely be watching the Olympics. Yes, I'm a big Olympics fan.  Summer… winter… it doesn't matter. I love watching the athletes because I know what they've been through to get to that moment, their moment.”

The very literal gymnastics lesson she's carried over has been “when you fall down, get back up.”

“I have tried to carry over so many of the life lessons I learned through gymnastics.  There so applicable to our everyday lives, and I didn't know it at the time.”

Miller credits that mindset for helping her through her recent battle with ovarian cancer.

“It's not easy, it's not especially depending on your diagnosis not everyone's diagnosis is as fortunate as mine.”

She talks about it now so matter-of-factly that it's hard to believe just three years ago at this very moment, Shannon Miller had no idea what was coming next.

In January 2011, following a routine exam that she almost skipped, doctors removed a malignant tumor the size of a baseball and miller's left ovary.

“Relying on those lessons learned through sports, getting up back after a fall, setting goals for each day, especially throughout chemotherapy throughout treatment it was really important.”

This cancer was the biggest test on miller. at the time of her diagnosis, miller had a 15-month-old son. She says she relied on humor and faith to conquer fears.

“It really helped me to remember that okay if this is happening there is a reason and maybe I'm meant to use this to help others.”

And she is every day through her company Shannon Miller Lifestyle. It stresses making health a priority and making time for doctor appointments like the one that ultimately saved her life.

Miller brought her message to Richmond, speaking at VCU Massey Cancer Center's Women and Wellness event.  Surrounded by survivors, researchers and other advocates, the 36-year-old shared her life lesson.     

“Falling down on vault, yes, and getting back up and winning a  gold medal on beam the next day, very literal but in everyday life we face challenges, obstacles, we make mistakes every single day and sometimes they're really big ones and we just have to get back up.”



Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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