The Truth About Shannen Doherty's Breast Cancer

It was 2015 when Shannen Doherty, the former child actress who had made a smooth transition into memorable adult roles, revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer. According to, treating her cancer with hormone therapy didn't work, so the actress underwent a single mastectomy in 2016. After undergoing intense radiation treatments, as well as reconstructive surgery, Doherty was thrilled when she went into remission. However, it would be a short-lived victory against an aggressive and tricky disease.

In February of 2020, Doherty announced on "Good Morning America" that her cancer had returned and was now at stage 4, meaning the cancer had grown outside the breast and spread to the lymph nodes and other organs (via "It's going to come out in a matter of days or a week that — I'm stage four. So my cancer came back. And that's why I'm here," Doherty said in a "Good Morning America" interview. "I don't think I've processed it. It's a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways."

For Shannen Doherty, the show must go on

Despite the news that her cancer had returned, Shannen Doherty chose to reprise her role as Brenda Walsh on the "90210" reboot. It was Brenda who made her a household name on the original "Beverly Hills 90210." Doing the show was difficult for Doherty for various reasons, including the fact that her good friend and co-star Luke Perry had shockingly died from a stroke just a few weeks before they were to begin filming.

"It's so weird for me to be diagnosed and then somebody who was, you know, seemingly healthy to go first," Doherty said on "Good Morning America." "It was really, like, shocking. And the least I could do to honor him was to do that show. I still haven't done, in my opinion. So it's a hard one."

She then added, "One of the reasons, along with Luke — that I did '90210' and didn't really tell anybody because I thought, people can look at that other people with stage four can work too. Like, you know, our life doesn't end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do."

The actress deals with her cancer pragmatically and with hope

Less than six months after going public with her stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis, Shannen Doherty and husband Kurt Iswarienko hunkered down at home thanks to COVID-19, with Doherty at added risk due to the cancer and treatments compromising her immunity, according to Elle. The months at home gave Doherty much-needed reflection time as she took mental inventory of all her possessions and which people should get them after she dies. However, at the time of her interview with Elle, she hadn't written letters to her loved ones, although she felt she should.

"I haven't sat down to write letters. That's something I need to do. There are things I need to say to my mom. I want my husband to know what he's meant to me." She also thought of making video messages, saying, "Whenever it comes time for me to do it, 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."

Shannen Doherty continues to live her life

In her dogged determination to show that a person can live with cancer, Shannen Doherty continues to work and document her life on social media. In May of 2021, she posted a photo of herself and actor Chad Michael Murray on Instagram as they were working on "The Fortress," which IMDb says is in post-production for a 2022 release. She's also posted Instagram photos of a girl's night out with friends.

She made waves in June of 2021 when she posted a makeup-free photo to Instagram, decrying the Hollywood tradition of trying to make women into something they are not. She wants to see more women she can relate to, sans Botox and other cosmetic procedures.

Doherty is still ready to live her life the best way she can. As she told Elle in September of 2020, "It's like anybody with Stage IV faces this sort of thing, where others want to put you out to pasture. I'm not ready for pasture. I've got a lot of life in me."