American heart

By Published On: July 1st, 2013

At the 1996 Olympic games, Shannon Miller wowed the world when she became the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history. Now the gold medalist, cancer survivor, entrepreneur and mom is on a mission to inspire women to live their best life.

Shannon-Miller-updatedYou’ve won seven Olympic medals and always aspired to be an Olympic athlete. Did you dream of being a mom too?
Olympic gold was certainly an incredible accomplishment, but I’ve always been someone who has more than one dream. I wanted to finish school, get married, have a family, start a business … Each new chapter of my life has brought more joy and that’s a pretty incredible thing.

In January 2011, you received some devastating news. How did you find out you had ovarian cancer?
I learned I had a tumor on my left ovary during a routine exam with my OB/ GYN. I had surgery to remove the mass and found out it was a malignant germ cell tumor, a form of ovarian cancer. I was lucky that it was caught early and after nine weeks of chemotherapy, I am now cancer-free.

Were you worried you wouldn’t be able to expand your family?
It was always in the back of my mind. I admit I had to work hard to shut the negative thoughts out. I kept remind-ing myself that if it’s God’s plan then it will happen, and if not, I am still so blessed to have a husband and a wonderful little boy whom I love deeply. I am blessed to have my health.

You’re currently expecting your second baby—congratulations! Does pregnancy feel different this time around?
I’m a little less nervous! I understand that the sickness will eventually end and I’ll have energy again. I also get to hug my firstborn and see a smile on his face every day. To add more of that to our family is going to be amazing! Of course, having a little girl will be different for us so that will be fun.

Editor’s note: Congratulations to Shannon and her family, who welcomed their daughter Sterling Diane Falconetti on June 25.

You banked your son’s cord blood and plan to do the same with your daughter’s. Did your battle with cancer affect your decision to do so?
My husband and I decided to bank our son Rocco’s cord blood with StemCyte after researching the topic and discovering the healing potential of umbilical cord blood stem cells. (Over 80 diseases are being treated with the stem cells collected from umbilical cord blood and the number continues to grow!) When it comes to our children we want to do everything we can to prepare for their future and keep them safe.

ShannonOlympicsBeamYou’re not only an Olympian and supermom, you’re also the woman behind a radio show, e-book, and, a site that aims to help women form healthy lifestyles and find balance.
How do you find time to do it all?
Well, it certainly goes back to balance, time management and multitasking. These are wonderful life skills I learned during competitive training. Of course, one of the most difficult lessons I had to learn (for my type A personality) was to delegate. I have been learning to let go and trust those around me to take the ball and run with it. Even if my husband doesn’t do the laundry exactly how I would do it—that’s OK.

Which is harder: winning seven Olympic medals or being a mom?
Being a mom, without a doubt! Training for the Olympics is difficult but at the end of the day, it’s still a sport. When you’re “mom” you are in charge of shaping a person. Talk about pressure! While there is a certain recipe for success with athletics, there is no manual for motherhood. We try each day to do our very best and sometimes we make mistakes, but we never stop trying.