Shannen Doherty Reveals a Personal Crisis and Praises the ‘90210’ Star She’s Been Leaning On
Last summer’s Fox Network’s BH90210 reunited the cast of the original Beverly Hills 90210 much to the delight of fans of the iconic 90s show. Actress Shannen Doherty, who portrayed Brenda Walsh on the series, joined the reboot to reprise her role and reconnect with her former cast mates.
Doherty had been in the headlines prior to the revamped show due to her previous battle with breast cancer, as well as the sudden passing of her co-star and friend Luke Perry in March 2019. Now the 90210 star is sharing some devastating news of her own and reveals who helped her through filming of the Fox reboot.
In August 2015, Doherty announced she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. “Yes, I have breast cancer, and I am currently undergoing treatment,” she told People at the time. “I am continuing to eat right, exercise and stay very positive about my life. I am thankful to my family, friends and doctors for their support and, of course, my fans who have stood by me.”
The following year, the former Charmed star revealed that the disease had spread. “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,” Doherty shared with Entertainment Tonight in August 2016. “So for that reason, we are doing chemo, and then after chemo, I’ll do radiation.”
Going through the devastating illness, Doherty feared not knowing what lay ahead. “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.”
Doherty credited the support of her mother, friends, and husband Kurt Iswarienko for getting her through such a difficult period.
A sad discovery
In an interview with Good Morning America on February 4, Doherty revealed the cancer has returned. “It’s going to come out in a matter of days or a week that — I’m stage four. So my cancer came back,” Doherty told ABC News’ Amy Robach on GMA. “I don’t think I’ve processed it.”
The former BH90210 actress struggled with many emotions on the recurrence, especially when thinking of breaking the news to her loved ones. “I definitely have days where I say why me. And then I go, well, why not me?” she said. “But I would say that my first reaction is always concern about how — how am I going to tell my mom, my husband.”
Doherty was diagnosed shortly after the death of her friend Perry. She chose to keep her condition under wraps when she went to work on the Fox Network reboot.
“It’s so weird for me to be diagnosed and then somebody who was, you know, seemingly healthy to go first,” Doherty said of Perry’s passing. “It was really, like, shocking. And the least I could do to honor him was to do that show.”
Support on set
Doherty wanted to set an example that despite the recurrence and level of her illness, she was still able to go on with life. “One of the reasons, along with Luke — that I did 90210 and didn’t really tell anybody because I thought, people can look at that other people with stage four can work too,” she explained. “Like, you know, our life doesn’t end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do.”
While filming BH90210, Doherty found solace in the support of co-star Brian Austin Greene, who played David Silver on the show.
“I had moments of great anxiety where I thought, ‘I can’t really do this,’ and Brian was the one person who — of that group of people that knew — that I told, like, pretty quickly and said, ‘Here, the — this is what I’m dealing with,'” she said. “So prior to shooting he would always call me and say, ‘Listen, you know, whatever happens, I have your back.’ He would look at me and be like, ‘We got this, kiddo’… so Brian helped me through a lot.”
The actress revealed that she was sharing her news due to a legal battle she had with the insurance company State Farm and was concerned of her condition coming out in court documents.
“I’d rather people hear it from me. 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,” Doherty said. “And I want to control the narrative.”
Now, Doherty is focusing on making a difference. “I think the thing I want to do the most right now is I want to make an impact,” she said. “I want to be remembered for something bigger than just me.”