On June 6, Shannen Doherty shared a sobering health update. The actor, who has been treated for various stages of breast cancer since her initial diagnosis in 2015, announced that the disease has spread: A January CT scan revealed brain metastases, which occurs when cancer cells migrate from the location they were initially detected to the brain.
In one Instagram video, Doherty is shown getting fitted for a radiation face mask on January 9; in a second post, she is undergoing the treatment itself on January 12. The close-up clip taken during treatment shows tears falling from her eyes, and in her caption Doherty detailed the “turmoil” of this latest development.
“Yesterdays video was showing the process of getting fitted for the mask which you wear during radiation [treatment for cancer],” she wrote. “My fear is obvious. I am extremely claustrophobic and there was a lot going on in my life. I am fortunate as I have great doctors…. But that fear…. The turmoil….. the timing of it all….”
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 150,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the US are living with metastatic disease, which is classified as stage IV. This means the cancer has spread to another area in the body, like the bones, lungs, or brain, for example. Although metastatic breast cancer is not considered to be curable, research shows that its survival rate has improved, especially among young people, thanks in part to developments in treatment.
Followers of the 90210 star thanked her for sharing a part of treatment that’s often, and understandably, kept private. “People don’t see this side of cancer. Thank you for being vulnerable,” one person commented. “I felt your anxiety and tears. So proud of you for having the strength to get through it,” another added. Doherty’s friend Selma Blair, who has been open about her own health journey with multiple sclerosis, also offered her support. “This is a lot to take on, still again,” she wrote. “And I am wishing for all the wise peace you have learned to find you in the terror moments. To know we are holding you.”
In 2017 Doherty shared that she went into remission; however, the cancer returned as stage IV in 2020. Throughout the last eight years, she has been brutally honest about the highs and lows—sharing many intimate behind-the-scenes glimpses on Instagram.
In February 2022, she shared a doctors office selfie in which she awaited scans and called herself a #CancerSlayer. In October 2021, she shared raw photos of herself in bed, one picturing her with a shaved head and a tissue plugging a nosebleed. “Is it all pretty? NO but it’s truthful,” she wrote, “and my hope in sharing is that we all become more educated, more familiar with what cancer looks like.”