Shannen Doherty on surviving cancer: ‘Advocate for yourself’

Shannen Doherty is covering Health Magazine. She talks about her breast cancer battle, what she went through and how it changed her perspective. Shannen, 47, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. It spread to her lymph nodes and she needed chemotherapy to treat it. She lost her hair and it was touch and go for her, but she pulled through and is in remission. In Health, she’s careful to say she’s not done with it and that every five years is another milestone. (Update: in an earlier version of this story I wrote that she has to “be checked every five years.” This was a glaring error on my part, which LightPurple caught.) I really enjoyed this interview.

What made you decide to be so candid about everything on social media?
It was just about being as honest as possible. And then it became very important to me that I was there for people who were going through it. I would never give medical advice because I’m not a doctor, but I would always say, “Advocate for yourself.” And also, I get a little less trolls and haters on social media now, so that’s good. I think because cancer stripped me of my defense mechanisms, it allowed people to see all sides of me.

How are you learning to love your body again?
I love that my body is strong and that it has the ability to fight something like cancer. I’m trying to show it more appreciation by going to a nutritionist, Dr. Philip Goglia, and doing strength training and boxing at Box ’N Burn almost every day. Importantly, my perception of sexy has changed. For me now, sexy is strength. Sexy is vulnerability. Sexy is compassion. Sexy is grace. Why should I care so much about the physical shell?

Do you feel different now that you’re in your 40s?
I didn’t even know myself when I was in my 20s. I was a passionate kid, but I was also a scared kid. I hid behind so many things; I hid behind attitude. I want to give that person a hug. In my 30s, I kind of got smart. Now I’m in my 40s, but I’ve had so much to deal with, I’m not sure what my 40s are like. It’s a learning experience, for sure.

In terms of work, what does the future hold for you?
I love working, and I can’t wait to be back at it full-time. For the first time in my career, I’m looking at it in a very different way. I went through cancer and was methodical in putting a team together and in the decisions I made. That’s how I’m looking at my career now. I’ve always been like, “I just need to work and make money.” I didn’t ever choose with strategy, and now I’m a little more strategic. It’s not a race for me anymore.

[From Health]

Read that last bit. She’s totally not going to do the 90210 reboot! Tori Spelling was trying to entice her to do it, but Shannen is not here for that. I doubt she’ll address it directly either, she’s just going to talk around it. At least I hope she keeps doing that.

I wouldn’t say I didn’t know myself in my 20s. I knew myself at every age although sometimes I wasn’t happy with who I was. I wasn’t as fearless in my 20s as I am now and it took time for me to get here. It’s sounds cheesy as hell but I’m evolving every day. I’m sure I’ll say the same when I’m in my 60s or 70s, that I keep getting better or different, but that’s life. I’m still me. At least that’s my plan, to keep giving less of a sh-t as I age.

How cute are Shannen and her husband Kurt with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze?! Do a show together!


Photos credit: WENN and via Health, Instagram

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12 Responses to “Shannen Doherty on surviving cancer: ‘Advocate for yourself’”

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  1. CharliePenn says:

    Doesn’t she have a history of violent and aggressive behavior?
    I’m so glad she is well. But I feel like as soon as she got cancer everyone forgot that she’s basically been physically abusive to people on set and off. It’s hard for me to take any advice from someone like that, cancer or not.

    • heloncearth says:

      Yes, she does.

      My friend is a make up artist. Did a shoot with the whole cast of 91210. Only person who was a problem was Shannen. She was rude to everyone and screamed in the face of one of the assistants, to the point of making her cry. What surprised her was that no one seemed bothered by her behaviour. One of the other cast members said that she behaved like that all the time.

    • bananapanda says:

      She burned every bridge.

      Fired from 90210 and Charmed. Picked fights with Jennie Garth constantly. And was written off the Wilford Brimley show too.

  2. Lightpurple says:

    Checked every five years? What? I’m a survivor, and while all bodies are different and all breast cancers are not the same and there are different treatments, I have often been totally puzzled by what this woman has said about her treatment. Every five years? She’s only 2-3 years out. I was checked quarterly by both my oncologist and radiation oncologist for two years. My radiation oncologist only released me from follow-up at that point because he knew my primary care doctor was hyper-vigilant. At two years, my oncologist switched me to twice yearly appointments while my primary care was also doing twice yearly checkups, which means I was still getting quarterly breast exams. And blood work twice a year to check markers. And an annual mammogram. And I was on Tamoxifan, then Femara, both of which required follow-ups for side effects. I’m surprised at Health for publishing that.

    • Celebitchy says:

      LP I will double check that and edit/clarify if necessary that’s a good point. -edit- she said every “I’m in remission. but I’m still not done with this journey. Every five years [cancer-free] is another milestone.” I totally misrepresented that and will edit, appreciate you catching that and sharing your story.

  3. Chef Grace says:

    She sure looks good now. Pray she stays healthy.
    As for ages. Dear Goddess I was a stupid twit in my twenties and thirties. About mid forties I removed my head from my ass and started to be a better person. Fifties brought me to a much healthier person mentally and physically. Now at sixty I am me.

    • Anners says:

      That is so reassuring! I’m in my forties and I feel like I’m finally starting to get it. Glad to know that the learning doesn’t stop here (and also that I’m not just a really slow learner)

  4. Dre says:

    Love her wish she had stayed on charmed and 90220 Dylan and Brenda forever

  5. Darla says:

    I had no idea she and SMG were close friends. As a 90s girl, and a total Buffy nerd! i am surprised I missed that.

    • lucy2 says:

      I didn’t realize that either!

      I don’t expect there’s a lot of goodwill left for her in the acting world, but I’m glad her health has improved.

  6. Franklymydear... says:

    So glad she is healthy again! I know she’s got a reputation, but I always enjoy shows more when she’s on them…90210, Charmed…they weren’t as good after she left. I’d love to see her in another series.