Shannen Doherty has had quite the career: she landed her first film role aged 10 in the early 1980s, cemented her reputation as a Hollywood ‘bad girl’ in the 1990s, and in the 2010s, endeared herself to the world for sharing details about her breast cancer diagnosis.
Shannen fought breast cancer from March 2015 to April 2017. “You hear the word remission and it’s a rush of different emotions,” Shannen told Good Morning America in September 2018. “Remission is a crazy word to me.”
Unfortunately, a routine checkup in 2019 revealed that Shannen’s cancer had returned and spread to other areas of her body.
Table of Contents
– Shannen’s stage IV cancer is incurable but manageable
– Despite the terminal diagnosis, Shannen is living a full life
– Shannen hopes to raise cancer awareness and funds for cancer research
– Shannen has shared little about her battle with Crohn’s disease
Shannen’s stage IV cancer is incurable but manageable
Shannen’s stage IV breast cancer, also known as metastatic breast cancer, will not go away. There is no treatment for the disease, which is in her spine and will likely spread to other organs, including the brain, lungs, and liver.
However, she can manage the disease thanks to medical advancements that weren’t there when Shannen got her first diagnosis. Shannen is having hormone therapy to block the estrogen that feeds cancer and is taking drugs to manage symptoms.
Shannen said on Good Morning America in February 2020 that her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis was ‘a bitter pill to swallow’. The 90210 star talked about her emotional struggles: “I definitely have days where I say, ‘Why me?’ And then I go, ‘Well, why not me? Who else besides me deserved this?’ None of us do.”
During her first cancer battle, Shannen shared nearly every detail of her treatment with fans. Conversely, since her second diagnosis, Shannen has shared little about her struggles. She talks about living with the disease but rarely delves into the nitty-gritty of her cancer battle.
Shannen has conceded that the disease will likely kill her. She told Elle in September 2020 that she would write letters and record videos detailing the love she holds for her nearest and dearest but still believes she has a long way to go before death rears its ugly head.
“Whenever it comes time for me to do it [write letters], it feels so final. It feels like you’re signing off, and I’m not signing off. I feel like I’m a very, very healthy human being. It’s hard to wrap up your affairs when you feel like you’re going to live another 10 or 15 years.”
In September 2021, Shannen shared during a virtual panel for List of a Lifetime, a film about a woman who creates a bucket list after receiving a cancer diagnosis, that she has no such list. “I’m very much like, ‘There’s no bucket list because I’m going to be the longest-living person with cancer,’” she said.
Despite the terminal diagnosis, Shannen is living a full life
“My husband says that you would never know that I have cancer,” Shannen said in September 2021 – and we agree with Shannen’s husband, Kurt Iswarienko.
Shannen is so full of life and positivity that you wouldn’t guess she has metastatic cancer. “I never really complain,” she continued. “I don’t really talk about it. It’s part of life at this point.”
A testament to Shannen’s strength is that she’s kept working. In 2022, she appeared in Hot Seat and will star in the upcoming films How to Make a Deal with the Devil and Bukowski.
“I don’t think there was ever even a thought that I wouldn’t work,” Shannen told Variety. Shannen said it’s essential for her to keep working to show people that cancer patients are employable. She conceded that, as a stage IV cancer patient, landing roles has been challenging – but she hasn’t given up.
Shannen told Variety that she’s found new joy as a director. “I’m a total nerd when it comes to cameras and lenses and lighting — creating a mood and a tone,” she said. “When I direct, I’m probably at my absolute happiest.”
The Charmed actress told Health magazine that she finds happiness in the little things: “It’s the little things that are making me laugh. The expressions on my dog’s face. My husband playing air guitar as we walk down the street. It’s all those little moments, the ones that make me smile and feel very joyful that I’m still here to enjoy them.”
Shannen hopes to raise cancer awareness and funds for cancer research
Shannen hopes that her openness will aid the global fight against cancer. In October 2021, Shannen shared Instagram photos showing the emotional moment she shaved her hair. She captioned the post:
“I finally made a decision to shave what was left of my hair. It was a battle on its own. I loved my hair. It had defined me to a certain extent and provided me with a security blanket of sorts. I’m sharing with you the day the decision was made to shave my head. #breastcancerawareness.”
In December 2021, Shannen talked to Entertainment Tonight about her aspirations for the year ahead. Shannen said she hoped for stable health and relationships and fulfilling career opportunities. Shannen added that she would use her voice to raise cancer awareness and funds for cancer research:
“I think in the back of my mind, this constant sort of ‘OK, what can I do to help bring more awareness, what can I do to help raise money, what can I do to sort of push research for not just myself but for everybody else who is suffering from cancer?”
Shannen has shared little about her battle with Crohn’s disease
Shannen has lived with Crohn’s disease since childhood. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the digestive system, leading to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, and fatigue.
There’s no cure for Crohn’s disease, but steroids and immunosuppressants are used to slow the disease’s progression. Shannen has shared little about her life-long battle with the disease.