Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2015, actress Shannen Doherty has always given an open and honest account of how the disease has affected her life. The one-time Hollywood bad girl’s unflinching frankness and fortitude has earned the star countless supporters. And when Doherty received some worrying scan results in April 2018, the 47-year-old told her followers not to fret – she was going to remain positive.
For those growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, Shannen Doherty was something of a teen screen idol. The Memphis-born actress first rose to prominence following her appearance in 1988’s iconoclastic coming-of-age flick Heathers. Major roles in smash-hit TV shows Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed followed, cementing Doherty’s celebrity status.
However, throughout the early years of her career, Doherty gained a reputation for being a bit of a Hollywood wild child. Tabloid publications worldwide reported on the bad-girl star’s party lifestyle and many rumored rifts with her on-screen costars.
Given the intense media interest in both Doherty’s professional and private worlds, it seemed like she lived most of her life in the public eye. From the dramas surrounding her three marriages to a series of run ins with the law, the press were always keen to report on the ups and downs of Doherty’s existence.
So when doctors diagnosed the former child star with breast cancer in March 2015, Doherty decided to share the troubling news with her fans via the media. In an exclusive interview with People magazine the following month, the actress revealed her prognosis and confirmed that she was undergoing treatment.
Indeed, an upbeat Doherty told People, “I am continuing to eat right, exercise and stay very positive about my life.” The grateful star went on to add, “I am thankful to my family, friends and doctors for their support and, of course, my fans who have stood by me.”
Later, Doherty would admit that she had originally delayed going to the doctor after finding a lump on her breast. The slow response was due to an alleged management mix up concerning her health insurance. The actress added that, by the time she went for a check-up, her cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes.
Consequently, Doherty urged other women worried about cancer to seek medical advice as soon as they noticed something amiss. “You have no idea what that extra time might have afforded you,” she told health and wellbeing TV program The Dr. Oz Show in February 2016. “The most important thing is catching it as early as humanly possible.”
Throughout her illness, the actress continued to keep her followers up to date with her progress via traditional media and online. Apparently, her medics wanted to operate in early 2016, but before they could do so they had to shrink Doherty’s tumor. Since the cancer fed off estrogen, the star’s oncologist used drugs to suppress the hormone in an attempt to prevent the tumor from growing.
Unfortunately, however, Doherty’s road to recovery would be far from straight forward. In August 2016, she revealed that her cancer had spread beyond her lymph nodes. “So for that reason, we are doing chemo. And then after chemo, I’ll do radiation,” she informed TV, film and music show Entertainment Tonight.
Doherty also said in that interview that she had undergone a single mastectomy in May of that year in a bid to control her illness. And it was this dramatic change to her body that the actress found particularly hard to cope with. Describing her emotional post-op bra fitting, the star confessed, “It was traumatic and horrible.”
But after months of grueling treatment – which saw the loss of her iconic brunette locks and bouts of intense sickness – Doherty received some positive news. In April 2017 the star announced on social media that her cancer was in remission. However, she also stated that the next five years would be decisive.
Writing on Instagram – where Doherty had chronicled much of her courageous attempts to combat cancer – the defiant star mused on her new status. She wrote, “What does remission mean? I heard that word and have no idea how to react. Good news? YES. Overwhelming. YES. Now more waiting…”
Doherty added, “As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial. Recurrences 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 years that followed her March 2015 announcement, Doherty has become a serious and high-profile advocate for breast cancer awareness. She has discussed her experience with the disease openly and without shame on social media so that other sufferers could feel that they were not alone. And even when Doherty was delivered a worrying scan result, the star continued to look on the bright side.
In an Instagram selfie post from April 2018, Doherty wrote, “Test and results. One tumor marker test came back good. Other… elevated.” Nevertheless, she added, “Just means I get monitored and another test. But even after that call, I’m staying positive and taking stock of my life.”
Indeed, it appeared that the star was taking a humble and holistic attitude towards her latest set back. Speaking of the elevated test result, Doherty added, “It certainly helps put things in perspective and reminds you of what you learned though the cancer journey. And I sometimes, need a refresher.”
Towards the end of the post, Doherty revealed that the tumor marker test elevation could have been caused by a number of factors. However, the actress was eager to stress that despite the concerning result, she was nonetheless still in remission.
Doherty returned to Instagram in May 2018 to reveal that she was in the process of banking blood for an upcoming surgery. But the star gave no details concerning the nature of the operation. Nevertheless, once again, the actress remained upbeat, praising one of her doctors for his patience when she freaked out over the size of a needle.
So, while Doherty’s journey with cancer has had its ups and downs, it seems nothing can divert the star from her fearless and optimistic determination to get better. Whatever the future holds, one thing is for certain – the one-time Hollywood bad girl will not give up the good fight to defeat the terrible disease once and for all.