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While appearing as a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show Thursday, the 50-year-old actress — who revealed last year that her breast cancer had returned as stage four after previously entering remission in 2017 — chatted about how being diagnosed with the disease has allowed her to tap into a whole new level of performing.
Doherty said she doesn't buy into the mentality that being diagnosed with stage four cancer means her journey is over. "People with stage four get written off immediately," she said.
"They get written off by insurance companies, they get written off by doctors, they get written off by your boss — and in truth, I think when you have something like this happen to you, you're probably an even harder worker than you ever were," she continued. "And for me, as an actor, I now have such a wealth of emotions to dig in and tap into for my acting."
"So I think I'm a better actor than I ever was, and by myself working, yes, it's helping me for sure," added Doherty. "But it's also sort of putting out there, hey, don't write us off. We're still vibrant, we're still out there and we want to be a part of the workforce."
Earl Gibson III/Getty Shannen Doherty
Continuing her candid conversation, Doherty said that people diagnosed with stage four cancer "want to continue to contribute to the world and earn money."
After all, she explained, "Many people with stage four have families that depend on them and need the paycheck."
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Doherty says hers is a "two-income household," and that her family would "suffer" if she doesn't work — just the same as if her husband doesn't.
"So all of a sudden, to say, hey, this person has stage four so they can't work anymore, you're taking away a livelihood," she said. "Stage four people have a hell of a lot of life in them."
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Also during her interview with Kelly Clarkson, Doherty explained the overall impact of her cancer diagnosis.
"You know, what I hear a lot is people saying, 'God, you just seize the day, you live for today,' and I'm actually the opposite," she explained. "I'm very much like a planner for tomorrow now, whereas I don't think I was before."
"Now, I'm very focused on the future and doing yes, everything that I can now, but I don't live as if today is my last day, or tomorrow could be my last day," Doherty continued. "I don't go into that mindset, because if I do, I think that you're almost sort of giving in to it, whereas I kind of go, 'Yeah! I'm going to live forever. I'm going to be that person with stage four cancer that lives the longest. I'm going to break all the records.' "
Adding that her diagnosis "doesn't stay in the forefront of my brain," Doherty said she only really thinks about the disease at certain points, like when she takes her medication or when she goes for bloodwork or scans.
"But other than those times, I just try to act normal and believe that life is, you know, you just move on," she said. "You just stay positive and live life like you normally would, maybe taking care of yourself a little bit better."