Collected Wisdom: Shannon Miller, former Olympic gymnast and Edmond native

Shannon Miller, 35, won two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and earned two silver medals and three bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.
BY RJ YOUNG Staff Writer Published: July 21, 2012

When you lose your hair, it definitely changes you as a person. For me, I was worried about what other people thought, whether I was pleasing other people, just making sure that everyone else is happy. I kind of learned that I have to also make sure that I'm OK, too. The more I'm OK with things, the more other people will be OK with things. Particularly with my son, when I lost my hair, I was so worried that he was going to be scared of me. I had to be comfortable with how I looked in order for him to be comfortable with how I looked.

Keep fighting. I had a good friend of mine on the night before I went in for my first cancer treatment, and I did not realize he was also a survivor. He said, “Shannon, this is just like the balance beam: You fall off, and you just get back up. And you just keep getting back up every single day.” I really took that to heart and kept that with me throughout treatment particularly. Those days that it just knocked me to the floor, and I was not sure I could get out of bed, my goal that day might be just to get dressed. I remembered what he said, and I just kept telling myself you've got to get back up.

No. 1, you've got to set goals, and the Olympic Games is a great goal. But don't forget about all the other great things where gymnastics can lead — college, scholarship. Just the physical aspects — the balance, the coordination, the strength, the flexibility — that you're going to take with you no matter what sport you try or where you go in life. Don't forget about all of those goals, and make sure you set short term goals. Have something to achieve every single day that you get up because that's what's going to keep you motivated.

I think you've gotta have fun. If you're not enjoying it, and you're not truly passionate about it, you won't be successful.

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