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Shannen Doherty on her cancer: ‘Not ready for pasture. I’ve got a lot of life in me’

Shannen Doherty
Actress Shannen Doherty, who’s been battling breast cancer since 2015, says she still feels like she has 10 to 15 years to live.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Reformed ’90s “diva” Shannen Doherty is sharing how she’s living her life — or what she thinks remains of it — in the wake of her Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis.

In February, the “Beverly Hills, 90210" and “Charmed” alum revealed that her breast cancer had returned and metastasized, meaning it had spread beyond her breast and lymph nodes. Now, in an interview with Elle magazine, she opened up about how she shared the news with her family and friends, and said that she expected to be in treatment for the rest of her life.

“I try to treasure all the small moments that most people don’t really see or take for granted,” Doherty said in the October issue. “The small things are magnified for me. We have this endless well within us, and it’s just about continuing to dig in that well for the strength to face adversity — and so that we can also see all the beauty.”

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When she was first diagnosed in 2015, a public disclosure made in a lawsuit against her former manager, she underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The disease has since spread to her spine and she expects it to spread farther, likely to her brain, lungs, liver or some other combination. She’s hunkered down in her Malibu home to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic and spends her days tending to the vegetable garden she and her husband revived during lockdown.

‘Charmed’ and ‘90210' actress Shannen Doherty tells ABC News that her breast cancer, which went into remission in 2017, has returned.

The 49-year-old, who revived her image with the “BH90210" reunion last summer, is developing several projects, including a new television show, and hopes to advocate on behalf of other people with metastatic breast cancer. “Others want to put you out to pasture,” she said. “I’m not ready for pasture. I’ve got a lot of life in me.”

But she also imagines a future without her in it, she said, mentally cataloging her possessions and whom they would go to, thinking about writing letters to loved ones and making video messages for her mom and husband to watch after she dies.

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“But whenever it comes time for me to do it, it feels so final. It feels like you’re signing off, and I’m not signing off,” she said. “I feel like I’m a very, very healthy human being. It’s hard to wrap up your affairs when you feel like you’re going to live another 10 or 15 years.”

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Her new treatment regimen would include hormone therapy to block the estrogen fueling her cancer, as well as a second targeted drug that is often effective at stabilizing metastatic disease, the magazine said. She expects to try other drug combinations if that doesn’t work.

Despite the diva-villain rep that has dogged Doherty most of her professional life, the actress believes she’s done what she can to have “good karma” and has “been a really good human being.”


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