‘Charmed’ Actress Shannen Doherty Reveals the Toll Acting Leaves On Health; Announces Stage 4 Cancer

Published on February 4, 2020

Last Tuesday bore bad news. Shannen Doherty revealed on Good Morning America that her breast cancer is back. The 48-year-old Charmed star was first diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2015. However, after the cancer went into remission, Doherty is suffering from the disease again. This time at stage 4. And despite Doherty having history with the illness, the damage is still present.

Interference With An Actor’s Workplace

Unfortunately, a person suffering from stage 4 breast cancer goes through a greater risk than those at other stages, according to Medical News Today. The cancer cells have at this point have gone all over other organs, such as the lungs, lymph nodes, bones, skin, and liver. In other words, it’s serious. And its symptoms are too.

Given that Doherty intends to keep working in her craft, it is astonishing that we, and the media, didn’t find out sooner. The symptoms she has gone through include: loss of balance, vision problems, chest, pains, and a consistent dry cough. All of which interfere with the actress’ occupation.

It Wasn’t Such a ‘Good Morning’ on Good Morning America

The fatality of cancer is just enough for us to remember that actors are regular people too. Their body is one of their instruments, so the mere sight of anything abnormal may interfere with the actor’s day job. However, one thing they do choose to do is put on a brave face and do what they know to do: advocate. All actors who deal with cancer raise awareness about the facets of the disease; this group also includes TV hosts.

As I wrote this article, I asked myself one thing. Why did Doherty choose Good Morning America (GMA)? It turns out the daytime show has a history with breast cancer. After a diagnosis, former co-host Joan Lunden took control of her own body and shaved her head before the disease did it for her. She describes the moment as a time where she believed she was going to be okay.

As for the current co-anchor of GMA, Robin Roberts was also diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2007. She felt it was important to inspire women to conduct self-exams, mammograms, and donate bone marrow. These two ladies paved the way for people like Shannen Doherty, to ensure that a haven, such as GMA, was to be built to protect their fellow neighbors.

State Farm Was Never A Good Neighbor

Due to a court case detailing the State Farm’s responsibilities with her home fire, Doherty decided to take matters into her own hands and come forward herself to control the veracity of the narrative. The court papers included her condition during said trial.

While her lawyer explains that she is distressed due to this lawsuit, State Farm claims that their job with their costumer is done; they believe she is simply trying to get sympathy during said legal battle. And even though she has gained some control over the media’s perception of her health condition by revealing the news to the public herself and not State Farm, she still hasn’t process all of it. She told Good Morning America:

I don’t think that I’ve processed it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways. I have definite days where I say, ‘Why me?’ And then I have days where I say, ‘Why not me? Who else? Who else besides me deserves this?’ None of us do.”

To make matters worse, the company took a cheap shot when they decided to bring back Doherty’s past tobacco use. Going as far as to mistakenly comment that she was smoking up until March 2019, when she stopped in 2015. Then again, Doherty is not the only client to legally battle State Farm. The company was sentenced with a $1 Million verdict after refusing to properly cooperate while a suspicious car wreck case was taking place in Georgia. It is puzzling that a daytime show such as GMA has more neighborly love than State Farm.

She Has Known For Over A Year

Doherty got news of her cancer’s comeback while she was about to film the reboot of one of her most classic projects, Beverly Hills, 90210. Which means that the news of Luke Perry’s stroke didn’t help with the process either. “Why wasn’t it me?” was her first thought when finding out about her long time friend, as well as saying:

“It was so weird for me to be diagnosed and then somebody who was seemingly healthy to go first.”

Doherty has gone ahead to admit that she feels petrified about the whole ordeal regarding her health.

Wanting To Make An Impact

Despite having to deal with a life-threatening condition, the actress still wanted to show that she hasn’t gone anywhere. In an interview with ABC, she bravely stated that “our life doesn’t end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do.” She wanted to show people that dancing around near the possible end is not an incentive to stop doing what you love. In her case, acting. Then again, she is still subject to vulnerability. An actor can’t do their job if the camera does not deem them friendly; with good reason, since diseases usually put productions (media-related or not) to a half. The actor knows this as well. Best seen when she told Entertainment Tonight:

“I had moments of great anxiety where I thought, ‘I can’t do this,’ and Brian was the one person of that group of people that knew. I told [him] pretty quickly. Prior to shooting he would always call me and say, ‘Listen, whatever happens, I have your back.'”

She Intends To Keep Moving Forward

Not only is she motivated by her condition, but also by her long-time friend and co-star, Luke Perry. She explained to ET the importance of filming the reboot, just for Perry’s sake. She mainly just wants to keep fighting, as explained to People Magazine last August. The outlet stated that she first went through hormone therapy before going through the mastectomy and chemotherapy. In addition, she reconstructed herself in 2018 with a surgery called DIEP flap, a process where the breast is rebuilt with the patient’s own tissue. The biggest issue regarding this condition is the effect of cancer on health insurances.

Can Patients Afford It?

The best example is cancer survivor Stephanie Barr. She was diagnosed at the age of 30 and due to a lack of insurance, she was bound to pay more than more than $130,000. Nevertheless, she was saved by a Medicaid program that provides breast related services. However, not everyone is lucky enough to acquire it, since health insurance is still hard to afford in certain states. A mastectomy, a common step when dealing with breast cancer, is not covered by most insurances. Even if consumers have health insurances, certain fears remain.

Doherty’s fears are more presently found in an interview she gave to USA Today back in 2016:

“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.”

This iconic interview foreshadowed the feelings she is expressing now, four years later. Despite all that, the actress has made it clear how cancer patients’ fear usually shifts away from the present to the future. And even though it may not be in her best interest to negatively think about her future, her current support system is very likely to make her present moment a bit better.

Argenis Ovalles is an Editorial Intern at Grit Daily. He currently writes at Vocal Media and Theater Pizzazz.

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