For the first time, Shannen Doherty has opened up and spoke candidly about her breast cancer, revealing everything from her diagnosis to the effects it has had on her career.
“You know, you worry most about the people that you love, and about making sure that they’re gonna be ok,” Doherty said. “So for me that was the hardest part.”
Doherty, who landed her breakthrough role as Brenda Walsh on Beverly Hills 90210, first revealed she had breast cancer in August 2015 after gossip site TMZ leaked several legal documents that revealed that the actress was suing her former business manager for failing to pay her health insurance premiums. According to the documents, her manager did not pay the premiums as he said he would, causing a lapse in her insurance. During the lapse, Doherty said she was unable to seek medical treatment causing her cancer to go undetected.
According to People Magazine, Doherty was first diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2015 after her doctors “discovered that she had invasive breast cancer metastatic to at least one lymph node.” Doherty was later told her cancer had spread during the time period when she was uninsured. Had she been insured, “the cancer could potentially have been stopped, thus obviating the need for future treatment (including mastectomy and chemotherapy) that [Doherty] will likely have to suffer through now,” according to the legal documents.
— People Magazine (@people) February 18, 2016
While speaking on The Doctor Oz show, Doherty spoke about the potential treatments she is looking into, Fox News reports. One of those possibilities is a double mastectomy, and although Shannen wants to avoid the surgery if at all possible, she says she will be okay with it if there is no other choice.
“It’s between two of them and at the end of the day it will be up to my doctor and it could change at the last minute,” she explained. “I’m actually going to a center, just to sort of get their general opinion and then I head back to L.A. and instantly go in with my doctors. You know, I’m like ‘You guys make the final decision. What would you do if it was your wife? What would you do if it was your daughter?'”
“Ultimately, they’re just breasts right?” she continued. “I mean, I love them, they’re mine, they’re beautiful, but in the grand scheme of things, I would rather be alive and I would rather grow old with my husband.”
Shannen Doherty talks to Dr. Oz about her battle with breast cancer and why she waited to have surgery, today at 3: pic.twitter.com/nLanc2EfaH
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) February 18, 2016
Shannen, who is set to star as Charles Bukowski’s mother Katherina in the James Franco-directed biographical film Bukowski, also spoke about the effects her cancer has had on her career.
“I think that people think that I’m ‘sick,’ and therefore I’m unable to perform,” she said. “There will be that recovery time and that I just have to take for myself. But it’s also because you do change a little bit while you’re on the medicine. You gain weight, and there is nothing that you can do about it … and I think that all affects a career like mine that’s not only based on talent, but it’s so much based on sort of the superficial shell that is right here.”
Shannen is also preparing to star in Mallrats 2, the sequel to Kevin Smith’s 1995 film.
“I’ve been lucky [that] I have like a director that adores me and hires me for a lot of stuff and another director like Kevin Smith, but you know those are few and far between,” she said. “I think that most people are usually like, ‘Oh God, is she OK?'”
[Photo by Emma McIntyre / Stringer/ Getty Images]