Abby Lee Miller appears to be having an emotional time as she continues to recover after undergoing emergency surgery last month

By Maria Pasquini
May 05, 2018 10:59 AM
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Abby Lee Miller is saving her tears for her pillow.

The former Dance Moms star, 51, appears to be having an emotional time as she continues to recover after undergoing emergency surgery last month.

“Practice what you preach! #saveyourtearsforthepillow,” she captioned a photo of herself curled up in a hospital bed on Friday, referencing a maxim she told her former students on Dance Moms.

Miller underwent a five-hour multi-level laminectomy on April 17 that required an 18-inch incision on her back.

Dr. Hooman M. Melamed — an orthopedic spine surgeon at Cedar Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital who has been treating Miller — told PEOPLE through a rep that he had to remove the back part of several vertebrae to relieve pressure her spinal cord.

“If we didn’t do something, she was going to die,” Dr. Melamed previously told PEOPLE of the long surgery. “Her blood pressure was bottoming out. She was not doing well.”

He also revealed that although Miller’s health is “looking good,” she’s “not out of the woods yet” and will need another spinal surgery.

Abby Lee Miller
| Credit: Darrell Sapp/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP

Doctors originally thought the reality star was suffering from a spinal infection. But on April 18, Melamed preliminarily diagnosed Miller with Burkitt lymphoma — a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.

Sharing a photo of her injured back last week, Miller joked that “this gives a whole new meaning to being stabbed in the back!

The emergency surgery came three weeks after she entered a halfway house following her release from prison. A source previously told PEOPLE that when the 51-year-old is ready to be released from the hospital, she will have to go back to the halfway house.

In May 2017, Miller received a sentence of one year and one day in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release for bankruptcy fraud. She was additionally fined $40,000 and ordered to pay the $120,000 judgment, as well as give a DNA sample relating to her felony charge.