Shannen Doherty Wants to Change the Perception of People with Stage 4 Cancer: ‘I Feel Strong’

Julie Mazziotta
·3 min read

Shannen Doherty

Shannen Doherty may have terminal breast cancer, but that doesn’t mean she’s about to die — the actress feels “strong and healthy and confident and happy” — and she wants to change the perception around stage 4 cancers.

"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. "You get written off so quickly, even though you're vital and healthy and happy and wanting to go out there and work.”

Disproving that assumption is part of why Doherty decided to publicly share in February that her breast cancer had returned, and was now stage 4.

“I'm sharing in order to hopefully give a different face to all of this," she said.

RELATED: Shannen Doherty Plans to Live ‘Another 10 or 15 Years’ as She Battles Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Doherty said that she frequently has people telling her “we’re praying for you,” and while she appreciates the sentiment, the Beverly Hills, 90210 star said it isn’t really necessary.

“There comes a point when you're like, ‘I got this. I'm fine. I'm good,’ ” she said. "There are a lot of people in the world who could use prayers, and I'm feeling great. I have an amazing medical team behind me and…”

"And you can lap me at an exercise class," Gellar filled in.

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Gellar — who learned of her friend’s diagnosis at a dinner party Doherty hosted with her closest friends and her oncologist so they could ask questions about her cancer — said this past year has taught her to “live for each moment.”

“I'm proud with how open you've been about it,” Gellar said. “… Nobody ever wants to see their friend suffer, but I think more than that — and I think this year has been proof of that — is that life is short and vulnerable for all of us. We have to live for each moment, because there is a clock for everybody. I think people forget that.”

“Right? Everybody's terminal,” Doherty replied. “I might live a lot longer than somebody who's perfectly healthy. You have no idea.”

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Doherty is also encouraged by the various clinical trials and searches for a cure.

“There are so many different clinical trials going on at the moment,” she said. “I think that almost every cancer patient is sort of chasing it. You're chasing the meds. Your meds keep working and working and working and then at some point, perhaps your body shuts down to them and you run out of different protocols to use. But really, you're just hoping that by the time that happens, they have something else. And normally they do.”

“That's why you don't give up, because tomorrow is that day,” Gellar said.