Shannen Doherty recently revealed that her breast cancer has returned and it was stage 4. The actress was last diagnosed in 2015.
90210, Beverly Hills star Shannen Doherty recently made the brave decision of telling the world about one of the toughest phases of her life. The 48-year-old revealed that her breast cancer had returned and it was stage IV. She was initially diagnosed in 2015 and underwent a mastectomy, which was followed by difficult chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She had gone into remission in 2018 but never took her time alive for granted.
"I don’t think you’re ever on the other side (of cancer)," the 48-year-old said. "I don’t think about the fact that I’m in remission. I look at it like I’m lucky to be alive every minute, every second of the day," she had told People magazine.
In 2019, the disease returned and the Charmed actress kept it under wraps while continuing to work. However, on February 4, 2020, she opened up about her diagnosis and said that even months later, she's not processed it. "It's a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways," Doherty said in an interview that aired Tuesday on ABC News' Good Morning America.
After the first and recent diagnosis, "My first reaction is always concern about, 'How am I going to tell my mom? My husband?'"
"My mom is a ridiculously strong, courageous human being. So is my husband [Kurt Iswarienko], but I worry about him," Doherty said. "I'm petrified. I'm pretty scared," she added. "There are definitely days where I say, 'Why me?' And then I go, 'Why not me? Who else?'" Doherty said. "Who else besides me deserves this? None of us do."
After her diagnosis, her marriage changed for the better and the hardship brought them together like never before. "Cancer solidified us," said Doherty to People, who wed Iswarienko in 2011. "Kurt and I have a much deeper appreciation for each other now," she added.
Doherty said, "It’s not that our marriage wasn’t good before. But we were definitely going through some growing pains. We would lock horns on things, and instead of resolving it, we wouldn’t speak for a couple of days." Now, "We don’t let a night go by mad at each other. The last time we had a big argument was pre-cancer."
The actress, who has had to come to terms with her post-mastectomy body, felt immensely supported by her husband. The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes so the doctors had to remove a lot under her armpit. "I could almost feel my rib cage, and it was really bothering me. Plus, you have to replace implants, and I want to go under the knife as little as humanly possible. It’s a harder surgery, for sure. And afterward, the skin is pulled so tight you feel like it’s going to rip open. It’s a crazy feeling," she told Health.
The chemotherapy sent her body into menopause instantly. It also affected her metabolism and she put on weight. The chemotherapy and radiation further drained collagen from her skin which made her age quickly. "For me, the hardest part is the scars. Every time I get out of the shower, I look, and it’s like, 'Oh my God, I’m Frankenstein.'"
From feeling like a monster, she learned to accept herself the way she was thanks to how her husband saw her then. "I don’t have to be a sexy little vixen," she told People. "How Kurt sees me really helps me be a better person. He was always like, ‘I’ve never seen someone handle something so difficult with so much grace. You’re so strong.’ And I figured out, it’s a quiet strength. And that is far sexier and appealing than I had before."
It was also because of him that she mustered the strength to go through with the brutal treatment and get better. "A pivotal moment for me was when I was deathly ill from the chemo. 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," she told Health.