Shannen Doherty Is Letting Go Of Possessions For ‘Easier Transition’ Amid Cancer Battle

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It's been years since actress Shannen Doherty publicly shared her cancer diagnosis, and since that time, she's been detailing her treatments, successes, and struggles along the way. The Beverly Hills 90210 alum regularly gives fans updates on her health journey on Instagram and her podcast, Let’s Be Clear with Shannen Doherty.

The 52-year-old, who has stage 4 breast cancer, recently shared on her podcast that she’s getting rid of a lot of material items in an attempt to declutter her life—and make things easier for her loved ones after she’s gone.

Here’s a look back at Shannen’s journey, from treatments, surgeries, and remission, to her cancer returning and where she is, both mentally and physically, today.

She revealed her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015.

Shannen made headlines when she revealed that she had breast cancer back in 2015. At the time, she had sued her former business manager for allegedly "failing to pay her insurance premiums," per CNN. This, Shannen said, prevented her from receiving medical care that she claimed could have helped catch the cancer earlier. The lawsuit claimed that her cancer "had spread during 2014 when she was uninsured due to her ex-manager’s alleged error" and that "if the cancer had been caught earlier, she wouldn’t have had to undergo chemotherapy and a mastectomy," the outlet reported.

In response, her former manager, Tanner Mainstain, released a statement that read: "Tanner Mainstain is saddened to learn that Ms. Doherty is suffering from cancer and wishes her a full recovery... However, the claim that Tanner Mainstain caused her to be uninsured, prevented her from seeking medical care, or somehow contributed to her cancer is patently false," per Entertainment Tonight.

The lawsuit was settled in 2016, but the financial terms were not disclosed.

As a result of TMZ reporting on the initial lawsuit, Shannen was forced to confirm her diagnosis. Still, she told People that she was “continuing to eat right, exercise and stay very positive about my life.”

She underwent a single mastectomy in May 2015 as part of her cancer treatment.

She started documenting her journey.

Soon after her public statement about the cancer, Shannen began sharing updates about her journey on Instagram, telling fans about treatments she was undergoing, as well as how she was feeling on any given day.

In 2016, she documented the process of shaving her head during chemotherapy treatment with some emotional photos.

In 2016, Shannen shared that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.

"I had breast cancer that spread to the lymph nodes, and from one of my surgeries we discovered that some of the cancer cells might have actually gone out of the lymph nodes," she told ET. "So for that reason, we are doing chemo, and then after chemo, I'll do radiation."

Shannen also shared her fears around what was to come.

"The unknown is always the scariest part," she said. "Is the chemo going to work? Is the radiation going to work? You know, am I going to have to go through this again, or am I going to get secondary cancer? Everything else is manageable. Pain is manageable, you know living without a breast is manageable, it's the worry of your future and how your future is going to affect the people that you love."

She went into remission in 2017.

The actress posted a moving photo in an Instagram post on April 28, 2017, talking about how she had finally gone into remission. In the picture, Shannen is sitting on a floor with her head in her hands.

“Moments. They happen. Today was and is a moment. What does remission mean? I heard that word and have no idea how to react. Good news? YES. Overwhelming. YES. Now more waiting,” she wrote in the caption. “As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial. Reoccurrences happen all the time…. So with a heart that is certainly lighter, I wait.”

Shannen had breast reconstruction in 2018.

Two and a half years after her mastectomy, Shannen decided to get her breast reconstructed, and revealed that she spent Mother's Day in the hospital.

“Happy Mother’s Day mom. I only bring you to the best places… food..yum,” She joked in the caption. “I love you. Thank you for always being there. I’d write more but pain pills are kicking in. @themamarosa #reconstruction.”

In 2020, she revealed her stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis.

Court documents revealed in February 2020 that Shannen's was no longer in remission: She had been re-diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Specifically, the documents, which were obtained by ET, said that Shannen was “dying of stage 4 terminal cancer."

Stage 4 breast cancer diagnoses mean the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, and is also called metastatic breast cancer. It is not curable, but is treatable.

Shannen later went on Good Morning America to talk about her latest diagnosis. "I'd rather people hear it from me," she said. "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, and I want to control the narrative. I want people to know from me."

In October of 2021, she shared a health update.

Shannen spoke out in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, giving more information about her journey, including a shot of herself with a nosebleed.

"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. 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,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

"I had many nose bleeds from the chemo,” she continued. “Not sure if any of you experienced this. I also was beyond tired. I cheered myself up by putting on [Cookie Monster] funny pajamas that my friend Kristy gave me. Did they actually cheer me up? Yes!! Lol. I looked ridiculous and in that ridiculousness, I was able to laugh at myself."

In June 2023, Shannen shared the cancer has spread to her brain.

In a video that shows Shannen getting outfitted for a mask to wear while receiving more radiation treatment, the actress shared the news that the cancer was now in her brain.

“My fear is obvious. I am extremely claustrophobic and there was a lot going on in my life,” she wrote in the caption. “I am fortunate as I have great doctors like Dr Amin Mirahdi and the amazing techs at cedar sinai. But that fear…. The turmoil….. the timing of it all…. This is what cancer can look like.”

By November 2023, it had also spread to her bones.

Still, Shannen said she was holding on to hope.

"I’m not done with living," she told People. "I’m not done with loving. I’m not done with creating. I’m not done with hopefully changing things for the better. I’m just not—I’m not done."

She's opened up about IVF and wanting to have a child.

In the beginning of January, on her podcast, Let’s Be Clear, Shannen opened up about struggling with in-vitro fertilization treatments before her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015, saying that she “did a bunch of rounds of it.”

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure women opt for when having difficulty getting pregnant. It’s a solution that requires retrieving eggs and sperm samples and combining them in a laboratory dish which creates a fertilized embryo (or sometimes multiple) that is then transferred to the uterus, according to Yale Medicine.

Shannen shared that during her marriage, she was desperate to get pregnant via IVF. “Not only did I want a child for myself, but I wanted it for my husband. I wanted it for our marriage, I wanted him to have that part of himself fulfilled as well,” she admitted.

Shannen and her husband Kurt Iswarienko were married for 11 years before filing for divorce in April 2023, per USA Today.

She later worried that her IVF might have contributed to her breast cancer diagnosis. “A lot of other women that I knew that did IVF that ended up getting breast cancer as well," Shannen said. “If you sort of have a cell that’s a little wonky and that’s sitting on the edge of maybe turning, spreading cancer… all the hormones that you’re pumping into your body from IVF are only going to up that chance. That was at least my thinking.”

In 2022 the National Library of Medicine shared a meta-analysis that found no significant association between fertility treatments such as IVF and increased breast cancer risk.

She wants her funeral to be a “a love fest.”

In a January 15 podcast episode with Chris Cortazzo, Shannen shared that she already has plans for her remains. “This is such a morbid conversation, but it’s also so fun,” she said.

“I want my remains to be mixed with my dog and I want to be mixed with my dad. I do not want to be buried and not cremated," Shannen said.

She explained that she’d possibly want her ashes to be used to grow into a tree and that she’d want them to be spread somewhere that meant a lot to her and her dad, saying they shared “precious time” together in Malibu, California.

And at the funeral, Shannen prefers a shorter list of attendees, noting that the list of people she doesn't want in attendance is “way too long.” On the podcast, she said that she thinks a lot of people would show up who she wouldn't want there.

“I want my funeral to be like a love fest,” she explained. “I don’t want people to be crying or people to privately be like, ‘Thank God that bitch is dead now.’” The actress told her podcast listeners that she wants the service to be at her house, and that she wants it to be a “party” and a “celebration.”

She shared the clip from the episode to her Instagram. “Sometimes you have to laugh thru the hard conversations! #buhbyebitch @chriscortazzo New episode of @letsbeclearpod drops at midnight. Listen everywhere you get your podcast. #thetruthmatters,” she wrote in the caption.

In January 2024, she said she's 'crying constantly' these days.

But, on her podcast, Shannen said she's still holding out hope that new treatments could help extend her life.

“I always talk about the fact that we just need to squeeze out another three to five years, and then there’s going to be T-cell therapy or there’s going to be this,” she said. “There’s going to be a lot more options that will give another five years. Then in those five years, there’s a whole other group of options, and eventually, there’s going to be a cure.”

She’s doing a “miracle” treatment right now.

Shannen’s oncologist, Dr. Amin Mirhadi, appeared on a new episode of her “Let’s Be Clear” podcast, and the two discussed an infusion treatment she’s currently undergoing.

"After four treatments, we didn't really see a difference and everybody wanted me to switch, and I just was like, 'We're gonna keep going with this and see,'" Shannen said. But Shannen revealed that after her sixth or seventh treatment “we really saw it breaking down the blood-brain barrier.” (In case you’re not familiar with it, the blood-brain barrier is a protective layer in the inner surface of blood vessels inside the brain.)

“Do I call that a miracle? Yeah,” she said. “For me, that happens to be a miracle right now. That I sort of rolled the dice and said, 'Let's keep going.'"

Shannen and Mirhadi also discussed her mental health right now, as well as her hopes for the future.

"Hope is always there,” she said. “I can die today, I can die in 20 years, I don't know. I can die walking outside of my house and a tree falling on me or a bus hitting me or whatever. Or I can die of cancer. But all I can do is live each day in as much of a positive manner with a lot of hope as I can and embrace it and be like, 'Wow, I get to wake up again today, and what do I get to do?' I think that positivity that you bring into your life helps you with your whole body."

Shannen said her diagnosis made her to forget her lines while filming.

On a recent episode of her podcast Let’s Be Clear, Shannen chatted with director and screenwriter James Cullen Bressack, revealing more details about how her cancer has affected her career. She explained that while filming Bethany, which James directed, she had a really hard time remembering her lines because she'd been diagnosed just a few weeks before filming, per People.

Specifically, Shannen said the medication she was taking at the time was affecting her memory.

“You called me when you had just started your meds and said, 'I'm not sure if I can do this.' I reassured you, 'If you can't manage it, we'll find a solution, but I believe distracting yourself by working will be beneficial,'" the director shared on the podcast.

He recalled one scene in particular, in which Shannen was supposed to be speaking to herself in the mirror about her beauty. Instead, she kept getting lost in her words.

"My mind was consumed by thoughts of cancer—what it meant and what lay ahead—and suddenly, I was confronted with this monologue that felt utterly disconnected," Shannen said.

Eventually, Shannen and James decided to take an approach inspired by Robert De Niro’s quiet command in The Godfather Part II.

"You suggested, 'I'll convey it with just a look,'" James shared. "And you did. You looked in the mirror, tears welled up, and you didn't utter a word. It was all there in your expression."

Shannen added, “It's a moment I'm particularly proud of as an actor. I believe it's much more challenging to convey everything solely through expression; words can often be a crutch."

In February 2024, she revealed that cancer “killed” her libido.

Shannen invited her friend, model Anne Marie Kortright, on Let’s Be Clear and talked about how cancer torpedoed her sex drive. “I mean, when you're feeling not great about yourself, that's going to kill your libido. But then…when meds take your libido away, or it makes things not as pleasant, like sex doesn't feel as good,” she said.

Shannen detailed how her friend took her to see an ob-gyn after she said that she wanted to revitalize her sex drive. Kortright said the doctor had a display of toys sitting out, and gave Shannen one to take home.

The doctor also showed Shannen how to use the toy. “Shannen was like—I've never seen her this embarrassed,” Kortright said. “I was beet red,” Shannen added.

The next day, when Kortright asked Shannen how things were going with using the toy, she admitted that it was still in her bag. “I think it stayed in my bag for a really long time,” Shannen said. “I'm turning red just, like, literally talking about it right now.”

Shannen shared that going through perimenopause, menopause, and “just getting older” during her cancer treatments impacted her sex life, too. “It's also impacting the whole way that your body is reacting and responding and then you add to that, cancer meds, you add to that, chemo, or and it just zaps you of everything,” she said. “It takes away your confidence. It takes away your identity.”

Shannen said in April 2024 that she’s worried about her mom.

On an April 1 episode of her podcast, Shannen shared that she’s worried about dying before her mother, Rosa. "My priority at the moment is my mom," she said.

The actress said it’s important to make sure that her mom will be OK after she’s no longer around. “It’s going to be so hard on her, I want other things to be a lot easier," she said. Shannen also shared that she’s trying to make memories with her mom right now, pointing to a trip they took to Italy as inspiration.

“[My mom] had tears pouring down her face because she never really thought that she would see that, and she certainly didn't think that she was going to be able to see that with me,” she said. “Those are the things that matter the most. Not your possessions, not what you have.”

Shannen is decluttering her home to make a 'cleaner, easier transition.'

During the same episode, Shannen revealed that she’s getting rid of unused material objects to help her loved ones after she’s gone. “I don’t want [my mom] to have a bunch of stuff to deal with,” she said. “I don’t want her to have four storage units filled with furniture."

The Charmed alum shared that she has a lot of antique furniture and feels “sad” that the pieces are sitting in storage. “I’m not enjoying it and others aren't enjoying it, and do I really need any of it? Do I need to have three dining room tables?” she said. “The answer is no. None of us really need all the stuff that we have, and we could all do with a little bit of downsizing and not become a hoarder, which I was doing with all my furniture.”

Shannen also revealed that she’s selling a property in Tennessee where she had once planned to build a family home. “It was really hard and really emotional because to a certain extent, I felt like I was giving up on this dream of building this property out, and putting a house for me and a house for my mom and then extending the barn," she said.

“It feels like you're giving up on something that was very special and important to you,” she added. “But you know that it's the right thing to do and that it's going to give you a sense of peace and a sense of calm. Because you're helping the people that you leave behind just have a cleaner, easier transition.”

Shannen said she plans to use the money she receives from selling the furniture and land to have experiences with her family.

“I don't need this. It doesn’t really bring me any great joy, but what does bring me great joy is taking my mom to the places that she's always wanted to go to,” she said before adding, “I get to build different memories—I get to build memories with the people I love. I'm not digging into the money that's in my estate that is going to make sure everybody in my life is taken care of.”

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