“I’m not done with living,” she said.
Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed actress Shannen Doherty just shared another terrifying health update. In a new interview with PEOPLE published on Nov. 29, the star revealed that her cancer has spread to her bones. This comes five months after she shared that it had metastasized to her brain. This is the latest heartbreaking development in Doherty’s long fight against cancer, which she’s been battling for years.
Shannen Doherty reveals cancer has spread to her bones: “I don’t want to die”
Doherty sat down with PEOPLE ahead of the launch of her upcoming podcast, Let’s Be Clear With Shannen Doherty, which will come out Dec. 6 on iHeartRadio and discuss everything from her career to her health journey. She shared with the magazine that her breast cancer, which she’s been battling on and off since 2015, has now spread to her bones. Despite the scary update, she told PEOPLE candidly, “I don’t want to die. I’m not done with living. I’m not done with loving. I’m not done with creating. I’m not done with hopefully changing things for the better.”
She said that her battles with cancer have caused her to ask herself some big questions. “When you ask yourself, ‘Why me? Why did I get cancer?’ and then ‘Why did my cancer come back? Why am I stage 4?,’ that leads you to look for the bigger purpose in life,” she said. As for what that bigger purpose might be, the actress said she hopes to raise funds for cancer research — “It’s insane to me [that] we still don’t have a cure,” she said — and also help others realize that people with terminal illnesses still have lots to offer the world. “We’re vibrant, and we have such a different outlook on life. We are people who want to work and embrace life and keep moving forward,” she told PEOPLE.
What type of cancer does Shannen Doherty have?
Doherty was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 after she felt a lump in her breast — and after she noticed her dog Bowie “would obsessively sniff” on her right side. She underwent a single mastectomy. Unfortunately, in 2016 the disease spread to her lymph nodes. After rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, Doherty went into remission — but by 2019, the cancer returned as stage 4.
In 2020, Doherty told Good Morning America that the stage 4 diagnosis was “a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways.” She added, “I definitely have days where I say, ‘Why me?’ And then I go, ‘Well, why not me? Who else? Who else besides me deserves this? None of us do.” (“Why not me?” is the reaction Katie Couric had to her own breast cancer diagnosis — “Given my family’s history of cancer, why would I be spared?” she wrote.)
Doherty previously dealt with brain cancer: “Mets in my brain”
In June 2023, Doherty revealed that a January CT scan showed brain metastases, which signifies that cancer cells have spread to her brain. She posted a video to Instagram showing herself crying as she’s getting fitted for the special mask worn during radiation and writes in the caption that she underwent the first round of radiation on January 12, 2023. “On January 5th, my ct scan showed Mets in my brain,” Doherty writes. “My fear is obvious,” she says. “I am extremely claustrophobic and there was a lot going on in my life.” She also explained that she’d had surgery in order to remove a brain tumor — which she named Bob, using humor to cope.
Doherty hasn’t been shy about sharing the difficult sides of her health journey. In October 2021, she posted a picture showing a nosebleed she got from chemotherapy. “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. She added that she hoped that by showing her struggles, she could “encourage people to get mammograms, to get regular checkups, to cut thru the fear and face whatever might be in front of you.”
In that post, Doherty talked about one of her coping techniques: putting on silly pajamas that a friend had given her. “I looked ridiculous and in that ridiculousness, I was able to laugh at myself. Finding humor helped get me thru what seemed impossible. I hope we all find humor in the impossible.”
Nearly a year after having surgery to remove a brain tumor, Doherty maintains the same optimistic outlook and is thankful for every day. “I know it sounds cheesy and crazy, but you’re just more aware of everything, and you feel so blessed,” she told PEOPLE, adding that people with terminal diseases are “just so grateful for every second, every hour, every day we get to be here.”