Olympic Gymnast Shannon Miller Speaks About Her Cancer Journey and More

Shannon Miller became a household name in 1996 after winning two gold medals at the Atlanta Olympics, four years after winning two silver and three bronze at the Barcelona Olympics. In 2011, her name was in the headlines for a different reason – she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

"I was very vigilant about my health as an athlete," a now cancer-free Miller told PEOPLE. "My body was the tool I used to become the best in the world at something. But I lost that sense of listening to my body and focusing on it along the way."

Miller decided to team up with Ascension after her wake-up call. She works to encourage women to speak up for themselves at doctor's appointments and to make those appointments too. Miller is also one of the top former Olympians booked as a keynote speaker. 

"I think it's important for women to know it's not selfish to make your health a priority," she said. "If we aren't healthy, we can't be here for those who depend on us. So that means getting back to our regular screenings and exams and getting a doctor you feel very comfortable with to have that open dialogue and communication." 

Miller recalls telling her doctor at the appointment that revealed her cancer diagnosis that she "felt fine." Even though she was having bloating, stomach pains, and rapid weight loss at the time.

"I went in there thinking, ‘How fast can I get out?’"

Miller now keeps track of when anything does not feel right, and if a symptom lasts longer than two weeks, she consults her doctor. 

"The best news you can get is that it's nothing," she said.

For these reasons, Miller said she understands and supports Simone Biles’ choice to withdraw from her Tokyo Olympics competitions.

"She essentially said, 'You know what. I've checked in with myself and there's something that doesn't feel quite right. Maybe it's best for my health and safety to step away at this time.' I think that's really important for her to know that about herself," Miller continued.

Related Blog: Top Requested Sports Speaker Simone Biles Dishes on Future 

"And that's what prioritizing your health is all about, for all of us. We have to pay close attention to ourselves to notice those clues that something doesn't quite feel right, and then take appropriate action to get the care and support we need." 
Miller, who calls Biles "so much fun to watch and a great ambassador for the sport," would have loved to see her break her 25-year record as the most decorated female gymnast in Olympic history. "Her skills are incredible," Miller adds, "she is such an amazing athlete."

To book Shannon Miller or other cancer speakers from sports, reach out to Athlete Speakers today. Our team will put you with the best athlete who fits your theme and budget. To get started, fill out our Online Booking Request Form or call 800-916-6008.


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