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In an interview with ABC News that aired Tuesday on Good Morning America, Shannen Doherty shared that her breast cancer has returned at stage four. Though she meant to keep the latest turn in her health battle private, Doherty ultimately spoke out to “control the narrative” of her experience with the terminal illness.
“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 told ABC News’ Amy Robach. “I don’t think I’ve processed it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways.”
The 48-year-old TV star — who first rose to fame on Beverly Hills, 90210 and then Charmed — also spoke about how she’s had difficulty coping with her breast cancer’s recurrence after years of remission.
“I definitely have days where I say, ‘Why me?’ And then I go, ‘Well, why not me? Who else? Who else besides me deserves this? None of us do,'” said Doherty. “But I would say that my first reaction is always concern about how — how am I going to tell my mom, my husband.”
When Doherty was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, she was very transparent about her struggles, frequently documenting chemotherapy treatments and hospital stays on social media. However, this time around, she silently dealt with her cancer while filming Fox’s BH90210 reboot — shortly after her friend and former co-star Luke Perry died at age 52 after suffering a major stroke.
“It’s so weird for me to be diagnosed and then somebody who was, you know, seemingly healthy to go first,” said Doherty. “It was really, like, shocking. And the least I could do to honor him was to do that show. I still haven’t done enough, in my opinion. So it’s a hard one.”
Doherty also explained more of her decision to return to work despite her diagnosis. “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,” she explained. “Like, you know, our life doesn’t end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do.”
Doherty went on to say that she only told a small circle of friends about her diagnosis during filming, with one of them being her co-star Brian Austin Green, whom she said she was able to lean on.
“I had moments of great anxiety where I thought, ‘I can’t really do this,’ and Brian was the one person who — of that group of people that knew — that I told, like, pretty quickly and said, ‘Here, this is what I’m dealing with,'” she said. “So prior to shooting he would always call me and say, ‘Listen, you know, whatever happens, I have your back.’ He would look at me and be like, ‘We got this, kiddo’…so Brian helped me through a lot.”
Doherty’s interview with ABC News comes as she’s also in a legal battle with State Farm. She sued the insurance company after her California home was damaged in 2018’s Woolsey Fire, claiming she was forced to pay out-of-pocket for losses she believes should be covered by her insurance policy.
In addition to owning her cancer story, part of the reason Doherty has come forward with her stage four diagnosis is because her health conditions could be revealed in public court documents before she and State Farm go to trial. “I’d rather people hear it from me. I don’t want it to be twisted. I don’t want it to be a court document. I want it to be real and authentic,” Doherty said. “And I want to control the narrative. I want people to know from me, I just didn’t want them to know yet.”
Watch Doherty’s full interview with ABC News below.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 4, 2020
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