From Diagnosis to Remission to Recurrence, Shannen Doherty's Cancer Battle - In Her Own Words

The former 90210 actress has been incredibly open about her fight against breast cancer, which she first revealed to PEOPLE in 2015

01 of 31

REVEALING HER ILLNESS

SHANNEN DOHERTY
Lester Cohen/WireImage

"Yes, I have breast cancer, and I am currently undergoing treatment. I am continuing to eat right, exercise and stay very positive about my life. I am thankful to my family, friends and doctors for their support and, of course, my fans who have stood by me."
- to PEOPLE

02 of 31

TELLING HER HUSBAND KURT ISWARIENKO

Jennie Garth's 40th Birthday Celebration & Premiere Party For "Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country"
Angela Weiss/Getty

"I called him, which was horrible of me. I was in the car. I was with my mom, and the doctor called me and I'm, you know, 'I'm going to wait until I see him,' and I just couldn't. So I picked up the phone and I called him and he was like, 'Where are you?' [When I got home he] hugged me and said, 'We are going to get through this. You are going to be okay. We are going to get through this, you're strong and you're powerful and you're not going anywhere. You have so much to do in your life. We are going to get through it as a family.' "

- on Entertainment Tonight

03 of 31

WHAT WORRIES HER MOST

WHAT WORRIES HER MOST
Source: Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"You worry most about the people that you love and making sure that they are going to be okay. For me, that was the hardest part."
- on The Dr. Oz Show

04 of 31

THE DECISION TO SHAVE HER HEAD

THE DECISION TO SHAVE HER HEAD
Source: Shannon Doherty/Instagram

"After my second treatment, my hair was really matted, like in dreadlocks. And I went to try and brush it out, and it just fell out. I just remember holding onto huge clumps of my hair in my hands and just running to my mom crying, like, 'My hair, my hair, my hair, my hair.' "

"It was just shedding and it was driving me crazy. It was just clumps, and I was like, 'Just grab the kitchen scissors.' And my mom's like, 'Wait, wait, wait.' I'm just, like, 'Grab it.' She went and grabbed the kitchen scissors, and put it in a ponytail and she just chopped it off. And it was this cute little bob, but it wasn't enough, you know, it was falling out."

"We did stages. We did a pixie. And then we did a mohawk, which was my favorite look. And then finally we had to get the shaver thing and just buzz it off."
- on Entertainment Tonight

05 of 31

SENDING LOVE TO HER SUPPORT SYSTEM

SENDING LOVE TO HER SUPPORT SYSTEM
Instagram

"Thank you to these three who helped me through an impossibly tough day and continue to be there every minute supporting and loving me."
- on Instagram

06 of 31

HOW THE ILLNESS AFFECTED HER MARRIAGE

HOW THE ILLNESS AFFECTED HER MARRIAGE
Source Instagram

"My marriage was always strong, but it's made my marriage a thousand times stronger. I could not have gotten through this without my husband."
- on Entertainment Tonight

07 of 31

THE SCARIEST ASPECT OF CANCER

THE SCARIEST ASPECT OF CANCER
Source: Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"The unknown is always the scariest part. 'Is the chemo going to work? Is the radiation going to work? You know, am I going to have to go through this again, or am I going to get secondary cancer?' Everything else is manageable. Pain is manageable, you know living without a breast is manageable, it's the worry of your future and how your future is going to affect the people that you love."
- on Entertainment Tonight

08 of 31

THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DETECTION

THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DETECTION
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

"You have no idea what that extra time might have afforded you. Mine for instance spread to a lymph node or two. It might not have spread ... The most important thing is catching it as early as humanly possible."
- on The Dr. Oz Show

09 of 31

HER MOTHER'S CAREGIVING

HER MOTHER'S CAREGIVING
Source: Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"Thank God I have her and thank God she is there. She is so strong, and my mom is like a steel magnolia. She is a Southern girl, and she puts on this very strong face with me. She is constantly looking stuff up and, you know, she will force-feed me Gatorade chips."

"Her and my husband tag team. It's amazing. They've really come together to take care of me."
- on Entertainment Tonight

10 of 31

WHY SHE OPENED UP ABOUT HER STRUGGLE

Image
Lionel Hahn/Abaca

"People don't realize that cancer - yes, it ages you - but also, you can balloon up from the various meds. There are so many different reactions you have and so I just - I didn't want someone to take a picture of me coming out of the grocery store and be like, 'Oh God, look at her.' "

"I wanted to put it out there the way it felt the best for me to put it out there; also, if I could help one person then it makes me go, 'Oh, okay.' It's easier to live with having cancer if I know I'm helping at least one person."

- Entertainment Tonight

11 of 31

PRAISING HER DOCTOR

PRAISING HER DOCTOR
Source Instagram

"My oncologist, Dr Lawrence Piro and I have a great relationship, one of mutual respect. He respects that I always come in with new questions and he takes the time to address and answer all of them… I like to say I'm his favorite patient but I have a feeling all of us think that. The key is to find a doctor who listens to you and appreciates your concerns. Not every cancer patient is the same. Also, it took me a lot of meetings to find my dream team. Don't settle #dontbeafraidtoquestion #research #lovemydoctors."
- on Instagram

12 of 31

GETTING THROUGH THE HARDER DAYS

GETTING THROUGH THE HARDER DAYS
Source Instagram

"Chemo day. A day many of us dread. Strength gets us through but every once in awhile, you just want to hide in bed and let chemo day pass you by. #currentmood #currentsituation#chemoday #fightlikeagirl"
- on Instagram

13 of 31

FINDING STRENGTH IN THE STAND UP TO CANCER COMMUNITY

Image
JB Lacroix/WireImage

"This night meant so much to so many people including myself. I'm forever humbled by the stories I heard tonight and the people I met. Thank you to all the amazing volunteers and crew that made this event happen. Thank you to everybody at @su2c who are so dedicated in trying to find a cure and give people with cancer better alternatives. I feel blessed to be a part of the cancer family tonight and to of witnessed such love."
- on Instagram

14 of 31

BECOMING MORE IN TOUCH WITH HERSELF

BECOMING MORE IN TOUCH WITH HERSELF
Source: Shannen Doherty Instagram

"I've been given a really interesting opportunity and one that in a way, I kind of feel blessed. Cancer has, in a strange way, done some amazing things for me. It's allowed me to be more me, like much more in touch with who I am, and much more vulnerable and the person that I always was, but I think it got hidden behind a lot of other stuff."
- to Entertainment Tonight

15 of 31

CELEBRATING THE SMALL VICTORIES

CELEBRATING THE SMALL VICTORIES
Source Instagram

"Love girls night with @annemkortright helping me celebrate feeling good enough to eat before Wednesday's chemo. #bff #fightlikeagirl #cancersucks #warrior."
- on Instagram

16 of 31

LOVING HER 'UNWAVERING' HUSBAND

Image
Source: Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"This is us now. Life has handed us an interesting card with cancer and although we would both prefer to not be faced with such a terrible disease, we must also search for the good. Am I blessed? Yes. Blessed for my friends that I have. Blessed that I have a fantastic mom and blessed that this man is in my life. Cancer gives a clarity that is unique. I've seen friends run, I've seen strangers step up, I've seen the unwavering still unwaver and I've seen @kurtiswarienko there for it all. That's friendship. That's love."

"Sure, I love our wedding pictures and pictures of me with hair and eyelashes and eyebrows, but my favorite pictures are of us now. Now because now is the challenge. It's challenging to love thru grief, sickness, an uncertain future. It's hard to feel sexy and beautiful when going thru chemo and therefore it's challenging to allow one to love you. I imagine my husband has faced challenges during this time with me and yet here we are... stronger than ever. More in love than ever. More trusting, more supportive. More confident with one another. Just more."

- in her #loveyourspousechallenge Instagram posts

17 of 31

FITTING IN FITNESS

shannen-doherty-news
Instagram

"Hey guys, so it's the day after chemo as you can see - red face, a little bit puffy from the steroids. I'm not feeling too great. I'm really tired. I was nauseous last night and achy. Everything sort of typical after chemo. I would prefer to be laying in bed right now and doing nothing, but guess where I'm heading? Going to go work out."

"I believe that just moving helps so much in the healing process. It's not always easy and sometimes I can't do it the next day but I try to make an effort to get the blood flowing and the toxins out of my body thru working out. Some days are easy workouts and other days I push it but the key is to MOVE!!! This is for any illness. Obviously check with your doctor. The road to recovery is paved with all sorts of different material. #beastmode #fightlikeagirl #warrior."

-on Instagram

18 of 31

OFFERING WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-31-00-am

"#fbf to a very short bit ago. Day after #chemoday isn't always so great. Sometimes one isn't able to dance, or eat or even to think about the next day. Sometimes it just feels like you aren't going to make it. That passes. Sometimes the next day or 2 days later or 6 but it passes and movement is possible. Hope is possible. Possibility is possible. To my cancer family and everyone suffering.... stay courageous. Stay strong. Stay positive. #wegotthis. #fightlikeagirl"

- on Instagram

19 of 31

PREPARING FOR RADIATION

Shannen Doherty - Bodies
Source: Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"This is Dr. Jay Orringer, who is my reconstructive surgeon and my friend…What he's doing is I have an expander in [and] because I'm starting radiation soon, he has to overexpand me [to] make this placeholder larger because radiation shrinks it."

"I consider myself very lucky and very blessed to have this man as my doctor. The last couple of days have been busy gearing up for radiation. #warrior #fightlikeagirl #cancerslayer"

- on Instagram

20 of 31

ANOTHER ROUND OF RADIATION

Shannen Doherty - 2
Source: Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"Another day of radiation. Meet Anna and Vince, 2 members of my radiation team. They make a concerted effort to talk to me and show me what's going on in this process so I don't feel so out of control in it. Never be too timid to speak up and ask for what you need to get thru the process. None of this is easy but a great team can make it more pleasant. #cancerslayer #fightlikeagirl #warrior #communicationiskey."

- on Instagram

21 of 31

LOVING AND HATING 'MAGGIE' THE RADIATION MACHINE

shannen-doherty-1333x2000
Source: Shannen Doherty Instagram

"This is Maggie. I've seen Maggie five days a week for what seems like forever. We have a love-hate relationship. I love her because she's part of the life-saving treatment I'm receiving. It's astounding how far we have come with technology. One day, Maggie will be retired and the cure will be found. Things like immunotherapy are the future but for now ... it's me and Maggie. I'm seeing her twice tomorrow so that I can wrap this phase up faster. Goodnight, sweet Maggie. See ya tomorrow."

- on Instagram

22 of 31

COMPLETING THE LAST DAY OF CHEMO

shannon-doherty
Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"Last day of chemo. Exhausted. Now that I'm done with chemo and radiation, the waiting game is here. Waiting for test. Waiting to see if I'm clear or not. Waiting for reconstruction. Waiting. I think when one gets cancer, they are always waiting to a certain extent. To those who know ... I'm waiting with you."

- on Instagram

23 of 31

STARTING A NEW LIFE

shannen-doherty
Vivien Killilea/WireImage

"Moments. They happen. Today was and is a moment. What does remission mean? I heard that word and have no idea how to react. Good news? YES. Overwhelming. YES. Now more waiting. As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial. Reoccurrences happen all the time. Many of you have shared that very story with me. So with a heart that is certainly lighter, I wait. In the meantime, decisions. Reconstruction which is several surgeries. Decision on taking a pill for the next five years that comes with its own set of problems and side effects. I am blessed, I know that. But for now.... remission. I'm going to just breathe."

- on Instagram

24 of 31

GREAT TIMES

shannen-douherty
Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"I think my husband and I are morphing into each other…. #twins #curlyhairdontcare #tulum @kurtiswarienko."

- on Instagram

25 of 31

RETURNING TO WORK

shannen-doherty
Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"Was back on set today. It's been a rough two years. Fighting cancer. As an actor, people bench you. They assume you're to weak, not able etc etc. and yet it's something like work that invigorates and renews strength to conquer the unimaginable beast. I compared myself to a car today. That vintage Shelby that's been in the garage too long. It's still a great car. The best. Just needs time for the engine to warm up and it's good to go. Performing like it's supposed to. I'm grateful for today. Grateful for everyday."

- on Instagram

26 of 31

PREPARING FOR SURGERY AND VOWING TO DONATE BLOOD

shannen-doherty
Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"My doctor had me bank some blood for my upcoming surgery. Mars P was patient with me and didn't even roll his eyes at my anxiety over the needle size. He was patient, kind and really good. As I sat there banking blood for myself, I asked him about some of the people also donating... especially the ones with TVs. So two of them come every 2 weeks and donate platelets which takes 2 hours. Another girl comes as often as allowed to donate blood. To say I'm moved by the generosity of people is an understatement. I'm vowing that as long as I'm cleared in the future, I will start donating. Thank you to those selfless humans that donate."

- on Instagram

27 of 31

LEANING ON HER MOM AFTER RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY

shannen-doherty-surgery
Shannen Doherty/Instagram

"Happy Mother's Day mom. I only bring you to the best places.....hospital food..yum. I love you. Thank you for always being there. I'd write more but pain pills are kicking in. @themamarosa #reconstruction."

- on Instagram

28 of 31

HOW CANCER CHANGED HER OUTLOOK ON LIFE

Shannen Doherty
Shannen Doherty. LISA O'CONNOR/AFP/Getty

"I felt more feminine and vulnerable than I've felt in my entire life. I was always used to being the strong one, and during that time period, every wall I'd built up in my life came down. I also had a lot more time to look at myself and say, 'I'm a pretty okay person' and cut myself some slack. I've had a lot of those epiphanies. It's OK to stumble."

- to Health

29 of 31

SHARING HER JOURNEY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Shannen Doherty.
Brian Bowen Smith/FOX

"It was just about being as honest as possible. And then it became very important to me that I was there for people who were going through it. I would never give medical advice because I'm not a doctor, but I would always say, 'Advocate for yourself.' "

"I get a little less trolls and haters on social media now, so that's good. I think because cancer stripped me of my defense mechanisms, it allowed people to see all sides of me."

- to Health

30 of 31

THE SCARIEST PARTS OF THE BATTLE

Shannen Doherty
Shannen Doherty. Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

"I remember I got in the shower to wash my hair, and it just started coming out in clumps. I started screaming for my mom. I think that was harder than the surgeries. It was like, 'Oh my God, this is real.' "

"They were worried about my organs shutting down because I couldn't keep anything in. One time, I couldn't lift my head, I couldn't suck on an ice cube, I was done. And Kurt was crying, saying, 'Please don't leave me.' I looked at him and thought, 'I can't do this to him.' So I dug deep, gathered everything up, and charged forward again. Kurt and I got through one of the worst things a couple can go through, and we came out stronger."

- to Health

31 of 31

A TOUGH DIAGNOSIS IN 2020

Shannen Doherty
Kurt Iswarienko

"It's going to come out in a matter of days or a week that I'm stage 4. So my cancer came back, and that's why I'm here. I don't think I've processed it. It's a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways."

"One of the reasons, along with [the death of former costar Luke Perry], that I did 90210 and didn't really tell anybody [about my diagnosis was] because I thought, people can look at that [as] people with stage 4 can work too. Our life doesn't end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do."

- to Good Morning America

Related Articles