Shannen Doherty kept breast cancer recurrence secret: people say their goodbyes

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On Tuesday, Shannen Doherty shared in an interview with Good Morning America’s Amy Robach that her breast cancer has returned, and that it is stage four. On Wednesday, GMA aired more of Shannen’s interview, where Shannen revealed that she had kept her diagnosis a secret for a year. Shannen explained it had to do with the death of Luke Perry, the way that people treat you if you say that you have stage four cancer, and because working is important to her:

“[People] look at you like you’re dead man walking, basically, and that they need to say their goodbyes to you,” the star said while dabbing at her eyes.

“Work dries up,” Doherty added. “I enjoy working, and working gives me just another reason to wake up every morning. It’s another reason to fight to stay alive.”

Shannen learned her cancer had returned after she “started ‘feeling some very odd aches’” and went to see her oncologist:

“In the back of your head, you are always expecting that this is gonna happen,” Doherty said. “But I definitely also, in another way, also convinced myself that I had beaten it. I was the true warrior, I was the true survivor.”

[From People]

Amy asked Shannen whether she would continue to share her experiences on social media, and Shannen said that she’s been posting less and that she doesn’t “want to be a bummer.” She said she wanted to be positive and “a beacon of life for other people” while staying honest and relatable about how hard it is.

You can watch the video of this portion of the interview below. Watching it made my heart hurt for Shannen. She’s still (as she said) processing everything. Since she had believed that she’d “beaten” cancer, I can’t imagine what kind of loop it knocked her for when she found out that it had returned and spread. (I appreciated that GMA showed the clip from BH90210 of everyone hugging Brenda when she came back to help them film the pilot. That was sweet.) I hope that she’s able to continue working for as long as possible. I hope that people give her those opportunities, and I hope that she’s able to find the strength and stamina to complete them, and enjoy them, too.

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33 Responses to “Shannen Doherty kept breast cancer recurrence secret: people say their goodbyes”

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  1. Janiet says:

    If your Gen X, I don’t even know what to say. Or how to finish that. We all watched this, even the guys. It was the background of so much, our fashion, our jokes. and it seems like last year. So, Luke Perry dead, Shannen stage 4, this is all insane. She is so young, 48, my god.

    • Lucy2 says:

      I hear you- feels like it’s too early for our generation to be dealing with this kind of stuff. I’m 43. Last year, THREE people I went to high school with died within a 2 week span. It doesn’t make sense.

      I wish Shannen the best- it has to be hard talking about it publicly, but I hope it gives her some strength and she feels the support from everyone.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        The 40s and 50s are a hard transition, when more people you know in your own age cohort die relatively young. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you (generic “you”) know a few seemingly healthy folks your own age who pass away unexpectedly due to suicide, accident, or rare health events. But it’s seldom enough that, while you’re sad about the individual loss, you can kind of brush it off as indicating anything about your own future. It’s like a lightning strike, scary but too rare and random worry about. When you get past 40, though, these “untimely” deaths come a lot faster and some of them hit close to home. It’s just the bell curve of life spans, but it heralds the slow approach of old age and really (at least for me) is a reminder to make peace with mortality and live life today. Every long-lived person I’ve known (by which I mean living past 80) has said that watching so many of your friends die is one of the hardest parts. Seeing the cultural icons of your youth die is kind of the same thing writ small. It sucks.

  2. Kcat says:

    I kind of hate the whole “cancer warrior” “beating cancer badass” thing. Sometime cancer wins. And those people fought, too.

    • tarynfox says:

      Well said. Sending Shannen lots of love.

    • Sequinedheart says:

      I agree with you. I lost a friend to cancer – he was only 32 when he died and he was a warrior but cancer won.
      Everyone with cancer fights. Win or lose, they are fighters

    • manda says:

      I’m with you. Some people in my family had very aggressive cancer and there was nothing they could do, I just watched my friend’s teenage daughter die from incurable brain cancer. Life is really hard for some people, horrible things happen

      I have so much empathy and sympathy for what Shannen is going through. She has been in so many of my shows over my life…. Little House on the Prairie (yes! for like one season), Our House (with wilfred Brimley), 90210, and charmed. She was also the little sister in Girls Just Want to Have Fun, which is one of my all time faves.

      Cancer sucks

      • Spicecake38 says:

        We lost a classmate of our daughter a couple weeks ago,this child was 18.
        My heart breaks every time I think about it.I have been walking around and just find myself quietly crying.
        Praying for your friend.

      • manda says:

        @Spicecake38–the one “nice” thing about it is they had just about a year after diagnosis to enjoy her and they did a lot of things before she couldn’t do anything anymore. They live by the beach and she got to enjoy that for as long as possible. She had DIPG, which is incurable, but I read stories of people that lost their children within weeks or months. So the year was nice, if you know what I mean.
        She was a really great kid

      • Spicecake38 says:

        Their situation sounds so similar to the child I am referring too,I won’t give too much,it’s not my story,but this young girl had a little over a year and until the very end she was at school,she was at church,she loved her volunteering opportunities at her school and church.She saw her friends rally around her,they fund raised for her,it was sad and sweet watching the young ones coming together to support their own.And they did do so many fun things as a family and as a school.
        What breaks me is that she should be here,healthy,and looking forward to graduating,summer,and college-these are the thoughts that deliver me back to tears.And I had it easy DCIS (stage zero,almost)surgery took all cancer,and my prognosis is that I’m 98-99 percent going to stay cancer free.Im so grateful,but guilt lurks all over when I hear of the less fortunate and especially the children….😪

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you. My brother was 16 when he died of cancer and he fought like HELL for two years. He was a warrior too, but he lost.

      This news hits hard. I just found out a friend in her 40s, lifelong non smoker, has lung cancer. Fuck cancer.

    • Ellen Olenska says:

      I was an AIDS activist way back in the early days…and back then everyone was scrambling to find a way to keep people alive or figure out why some lived or died. There was a ton of diet-shaming, “ negative attitude” shaming etc to explain the unexplainable. A guy named Michael Callan wrote a book called “Surviving AIDS” that basically showed that none of that, including prayer chains, positive thinking, macrobiotic diets etc, was the magic bullet.
      He basically concluded with something like, “ if you believe it works for you and it works, great. But don’t go labeling others to try to explain why they died and you didn’t.” He also later died (he is in the movie Philadelphia BTW).

      Everyone fights cancer and it still gets people who fight it with every fiber of their being. And I also understand why some choose to stop fighting and enjoy their remaining time. I get why people think it helps to be a “Cancer Warrior” everyone needs to grab strength wherever they can find it when the chips are down. But we should never make it seem like those that lose the battle we’re somehow “less than”.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        Everyone wants to believe that you can escape death through the physiological equivalent of “good works.” But it comes for us all in the end. All we can do is be kind while we’re here.

    • Athyrmose says:

      Same. I’m in remission, and another survivor told me during my treatment that we’re never ‘cured’ of breast cancer – we’re always managing remission. I’m continually thankful for that feedback.

      Cheers to Shannen’s second victory, though!

    • pattyc says:

      Great point KCat. It’s heartbreaking.

  3. Cee says:

    A family member was gone in 2 weeks after finding out her previously beaten breast cancer had spread to her bones and brain. She was 43, mother to two young children. It was devastating.
    She detected her breast cancer in the early stages but it was too strong from the beginning.

    • Ali says:

      I have a friend who has stage 4 cancer, not the curable kind, and her son is my son’s age and some days I just cry and cry for her and her family. I just can’t imagine having to leave my children so young. It’s heartbreaking.

  4. Esmom says:

    My heart goes out to her. What a gut punch. Wishing her strength and peace.

  5. Translatress says:

    Cancer is a b*tch. That’s so sad. I only know one person who seems to have beaten it for good.

  6. Laura says:

    My best friend’s little sister is in hospice now after a 2 year battle with osteosarcoma. She’s only 27 and it’s heartbreaking.

  7. Awkward symphony says:

    I watched her on 90210 as a kid and it’s so sad to hear shes fighting this. I pray she gets well

  8. Roo says:

    This makes me so sad. My mother was 42 when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Wasn’t even a lump. It was a micro-calcification that spread to her lymph nodes and on her lung. Long story short, she did an experimental treatment with a group of 5 women. 2 of the 5 survived. One of which was my mother. She’s still alive and cancer free 23 years later, no reoccurrence. My point is, cancer patients are at the mercy of their bodies. It’s such a nefarious and sneaky disease — it does what it wants no matter how hard you fight. All cancer patients are fighters. I’m sitting here 3 days post op from having a preventative double mastectomy. That’s how much I fear this disease. This news of Shannen breaks my heart. I hope she keeps fighting. My heart goes out to her fully right now.

    • Spicecake38 says:

      Like your mom,I was 42 when DCIS was my diagnosis.I underwent double mastectomy too,because of genetic reasons.
      I went with immediate reconstruction,but just visited a plastic surgeon two days ago,he is going to be able to revise and correct the ugly job done by the first PS.I am tired of fighting doctors who tell me to not try for a better cosmetic outcome,and it’s not just cosmetic my current implants are too big and make movement difficult-I mention this so that you know going through any reconstruction you may choose (and if you don’t that is fine too)that you have to make sure your surgeon listens to you regarding what you want for you,going forward.Best of luck,and I’m so happy to hear that your mom is alive and well all these years later.Prayers and supportive thoughts to you!

      • Roo says:

        Oh thank you so much!!!! Yes I was highly selective with my doctors and my PS gave me every option under the sun. I currently have over the muscle expanders in. Second surgery hopefully in May for the silicone implants. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. It’s impossibly hard. You don’t know until it happens, but it impacts your life in every imaginable way. And wow do insurance companies make it difficult….. I’m wishing you the absolute best of luck and a life of happiness.

      • Hotsauceinmybag says:

        I don’t know either of you but you both sound kickass. Thank you for sharing your stories. Sending you both all the good vibes in the world.

  9. Golly Gee says:

    State Farm insurance says she’s using the cancer recurrence to garner sympathy before her upcoming court case against them. What a bunch of lowlifes.

  10. The Recluse says:

    Cancer is a monster. Even if you beat it back, it lurks in your mind and frequently in your body, waiting to come back.
    Had my run in with it 10 years ago and desperately hope never to have that experience again.

  11. Nuzzybear says:

    F**k cancer. F**k it in the a**. No lube.

    Sorry for the lack of eloquence, but cancer doesn’t deserve the nice Minnesotan words.

  12. Texas says:

    I’m an 80’s kid so I watched 90210 big time. Sad.

  13. TheOriginalMia says:

    I pray for her health. It’s possible to survive a recurrence of cancer, even at stage 4.

  14. MARKWEER says:

    My cousin died of Cancer a few years ago before she turned fifty. She declined treatment & we were angry as hell, but it turned out she had fought Cancer years before and didn’t share it with anyone except for her husband and when it returned the first fight had taken too much out of her. She didn’t have enough to be a “Warrior” Twice