For the first year of filming the 90210 reboot, Shannen Doherty was holding on to a traumatic secret. Her breast cancer had returned. She decided to disclose this information only to her family and to one other castmate—until a legal battle with her insurance company changed everything.
“It’s going to come out in a matter of days or weeks that – I’m stage four,” Doherty told ABC News in an interview with Amy Robach. “So my cancer came back.”
Doherty, who starred in the iconic Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed, first received news of her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015, and then went through a period of remission. She advocated for early detection and supported events such as Stand Up to Cancer, candidly telling her story and encouraging others with the disease.
But in 2019, the cancer came back..
“Doherty says she is only speaking out about her cancer diagnosis because court documents detailing her health conditions will be made public ahead of the trial,” Robach told viewers. In other words, Doherty decided she would be the one to control the narrative.
“You’ve been living with it privately for a year now,” Robach stated during their interview. “And you wanted to keep it private.”
“I still do,” Doherty admitted. “I mean, I don’t think that I’ve processed it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways.”
Stage four cancer means the cancer has spread—metastasized—to another part of the body to form secondary cancers. Generally speaking, by stage four, cancer patients are more likely to have terminal instances of the disease. By no means, however, does this mean that all stage four cancers are terminal, and Doherty was very emphatic about not going down without a fight.
Through tears, Doherty explained the emotional turmoil of questioning why something like this would happen to her, how cancer shouldn’t be a thing anybody out there ever has to deal with. She explained to Robach her concerns about telling her friends and family. She stressed this to be the most daunting task she faced after receiving the prognosis.
Doherty voiced her concern about joining the cast of the 90210 reboot in her condition, yet she credits former castmate Luke Perry’s passing as the reason she decided to move forward with the project.
“It was so weird for me to be diagnosed and then somebody who was, you know, seemingly healthy to go first,” Doherty said. “The least I could do to honor him was to do that show.”
She talked about the importance of showing the world, once the news was released, that people with stage four cancer could still work and live their lives.
This didn’t mean there weren’t complications. During moments of anxiety, when Doherty believed she couldn’t push through on set any longer, she leaned on castmate Brian Austin Green. He made it very clear he had her back no matter what.
Doherty closed the interview by proclaiming to the world she would fight back, not just against her own disease. She would also try to make an uplifting impression on the world at large. She plans on helping the “little guy” fight back against corporations which do not serve the public or the common good.
On her Instagram, she posted a Charlie Brown comic that reflects her positive energy and lively spirit.
“We only live once,” Charlie Brown said in the comic.
“Wrong!” Snoopy argued. “We only die once. We live every day.”
We’re all rooting for Doherty—and definitely taking a page from her book about living every single day…to its fullest.
About The Author:
Rachel Goodman is a Los Angeles based actress, host, and writer originally from a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. In college, Rachel wrote for the Penn State Abington Literary Review and was an editorialist for The Lion’s Roar and The Montgomery County Ticket.
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