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Shannen Doherty is getting candid about her emotional experience with hair loss during her breast cancer treatment.
On Saturday, the 50-year-old actress — who revealed last year that her cancer had returned as stage 4 after previously entering remission in 2017 — opened up about losing her hair following her diagnosis. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she shared two black-and-white photos on Instagram from 2016 that show her crying on the day she made the decision to shave her head.
"When I started chemotherapy, I tried a cold cap in hopes of saving my hair. While it works for many and is amazing, it didn't work for me," Doherty wrote in the caption. "My hair was falling out in clumps when I washed it, I had bald spots and it became increasingly harder to cover those up."
She continued, "I finally made a decision to shave what was left of my hair. It was a battle on its own. I loved my hair. It had defined me to a certain extent and provided me with a security blanket of sorts. I'm sharing with you the day the decision was made to shave my head. 2016 #breastcancerawareness."
Under the post, several celebrities and fans expressed their support and praised Doherty for sharing her story.
Brian Austin Green commented, "I love you, I always have, and your ability to share yourself in even the hardest times in your life inspires. You're one of the greatest people I have ever known. I'm here for you always ❤️."
"I cried so much when I lost mine! You are such a warrior. Thank you for sharing this," one follower wrote, before Doherty responded, "It's so hard right?"
Doherty has been sharing a lot of photos on social media from her cancer journey as Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off. On Thursday, the actress also gave her fans a raw look into her life by sharing images of what she called "my own personal journey from my first diagnosis to my second."
"Is it all pretty? NO but it's truthful and my hope in sharing is that we all become more educated, more familiar with what cancer looks like," she wrote on her Instagram. "I hope I encourage people to get mammograms, to get regular checkups, to cut thru the fear and face whatever might be in front of you."
One photo showed Doherty with a bloodied tissue stuck up her nostril, while the Beverly Hills, 90210 alum was pictured wearing Cookie Monster pajamas and a sleep mask in another snapshot. Explaining that she was often "beyond tired" during treatment, Doherty said she would put on "funny pajamas" to keep her spirits up.
"Did they actually cheer me up? Yes!! Lol. I looked ridiculous and in that ridiculousness, I was able to laugh at myself," she shared. "Finding humor helped get me thru what seemed impossible. I hope we all find humor in the impossible."
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Doherty was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, she shared exclusively to PEOPLE at the time. She entered remission two years later, but revealed in 2020 that her cancer had returned as stage 4.
Since then, Doherty has been challenging assumptions around stage 4 cancer patients and those who have terminal illnesses.
"I want people to not hear stage 4 cancer and think of the person that is gray and falling over and they can't move and they're going into hospice and they can't work," she told her longtime friend Sarah Michelle Gellar for an interview with Entertainment Tonight last year. "You get written off so quickly, even though you're vital and healthy and happy and wanting to go out there and work."
"Everybody's terminal," she added at the time. "I might live a lot longer than somebody who's perfectly healthy. You have no idea."