Abby Lee Miller may be recovering well from emergency surgery, but her doctor says she's "not out of the woods yet"

By Dave Quinn and Emily Strohm
April 19, 2018 02:52 PM
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Abby Lee Miller may be recovering well from emergency surgery to treat a potential cancer that left her paralyzed from the neck down, but her doctor says she’s “not out of the woods yet.”

Miller’s rep says that Dr. Hooman M. Melamed, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Cedar Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital who has been treating the former Dance Moms star, tells PEOPLE that Miller’s health is “looking good” as she has a lot more movement in her arms legs and toes, which is a” very good sign.”

But while he’s optimistic Miller will recover, Melamed said Miller will need another spinal surgery.

Miller, 51, is still in the hospital for treatment.

Credit: All Access/SAF/Splash News

She went into surgery for a multi-level laminectomy at about 1 a.m. Tuesday after she experienced “excruciating neck pain” and weakness in her arm. The almost five-hour surgery required an 18-inch incision on her back as Melamed had to remove the back part of several vertebrae to back to relieve pressure her spinal cord.

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

Doctors originally thought Miller was suffering from a spinal infection. But on Wednesday, Melamed preliminarily diagnosed Miller with Burkitt lymphoma — a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (or cancer that develops in the lymphatic system).

Patients with Burkitt diagnosis have a “good prognosis,” according to Miller’s rep.

Pathology results are pending.

“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,” Melamed previously told PEOPLE. “Depending on the tumor type, depending on the sensitivity of the tumor – it just depends the type but I feel more than yes, she will undergo chemotherapy or radiation.”

Credit: Darrell Sapp/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP

Miller was hospitalized for a thyroid condition two weeks after she entered a halfway house. She was taken to an emergency room in Los Angeles, according to TMZ, which first reported the news.

After serving time for bankruptcy fraud at the Victorville Federal Correctional Institution in California, she was transferred at the end of March to the Residential Reentry Center in Long Beach, a facility that provides a structured and supervised environment where she’ll be given employment counseling, job placement and financial management assistance.

When she is released from the hospital, Miller will have to go back to the halfway house, a source tells PEOPLE.

Credit: JC Olivera/WireImage

RELATED VIDEO: Abby Lee Miller Is All Smiles Arriving at Easter Church Service After Prison Release

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.

Earlier this year, Entertainment Tonight reported Miller had lost about 100 lbs. and was feeling “great.” And Miller posted a photo of herself on Instagram in January wearing a prison uniform and posed up with some of her visitors.

“Sometimes in life you make mistakes I trusted the wrong people and didn’t pay any attention to things I should of. I’m more than sorry for the mistakes I have made,” Miller wrote in the caption.

“My world flipped upside down when I had to enter prison,” she continued. “I did so with grace, the stories you read about me been a princess are untrue. I have made friends with both inmates and staff, I’ve tried to better myself, participated in anything offered to me and I am a better person for this experience.”