JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When University of Kentucky senior gymnast Shelby Hilton fell at a meet against Florida earlier this year, she knew it might end her season. She just did not know it might have saved her life.
After that fall, Hilton was taken to UF Shands in Gainesville and given a brain scan. That scan revealed several lesions and was diagnosed as medulloblastoma, a rare brain cancer that originates at the base of the skull.
Hilton, who is from St. Petersburg, has been receiving treatment at the UF Proton Therapy lab in Jacksonville. It was there where she got a special visitor Friday afternoon. Seven-time Olympic medalist and cancer survivor Shannon Miller reached out to Hilton through the hospital.
"I loved talking to her," Miller said. "She's a fighter, she's a gymnast. She's got that mentality of 'I've got this' but she also has questions about treatment, so any kind of help I can provide is great."
One of the things Hilton wanted to know was about fatigue. She finishes up her treatment at the UF Proton Threapy Lab on Monday, but has to start chemotherapy soon after that.
"One of the things Shannon told me was to take time to yourself if that's what you want. Make sure you get a lot of sleep and don't be afraid to say 'No, I'm tired.'"
Being fellow gymnasts, Miller said that Hilton will have to lean on that focus and training to get through her cancer. "As a gymnast you are doing school, training, meets, all of these things, but when you are sick, you are not going to want to do anything. And that's O.K. Just keep the focus on your health."