Shannen Doherty shared a health update amid her ongoing cancer treatment.
Last year, she shared that her recurred stage 4 breast cancer had metastasized to her brain and spread to her bones.
The actress and her doctors are seeing progress with a new therapy.
Shannen Doherty believes in miracles, and according to her, she recently experienced one in the form of a promising cancer treatment development. The Beverly Hills 90210 star has undergone treatment, on and off, since 2015 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2020, she told the public that the cancer had recurred as stage 4. Most recently, she revealed that it metastasized to her brain and spread to her bones. Therapies like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery have taken place, and now, Doherty is hopeful about the results seen from a new infusion.
The actress, 52, opted not to share the specifics of said infusion but said that, at first, she and her doctor weren’t sure it would work. “After four treatments, we didn’t really see a difference and everybody wanted me to switch, and I just was like, ‘We’re going to keep going with this and see,’” Doherty said on her podcast, Let’s Be Clear With Shannen Doherty. “After the sixth, seventh treatment we really saw it breaking down the blood-brain barrier.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, the blood-brain barrier is a tightly packed mix of cells that walls off the brain from the rest of the body, protecting it from threats like infection. That protection, however, can prevent medications—like those for the treatment of brain cancer—from penetrating and working, which explains why Doherty was pleased that her infusions are making a dent.
“Do I call that a miracle? Yeah. For me, that happens to be a miracle right now,” she said. “That I sort of rolled the dice and said, ‘Let’s keep going.’”
It’s been crucial for Doherty to retain a sense of optimism throughout her various diagnoses. “Hope is always there. I can die today, I can die in 20 years,” she said. “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.”
Amin Mirhadi, M.D., Doherty’s radiation oncologist who joined as her podcast guest, agreed with Doherty that positivity goes a long way, in both the physical and emotional sense. For example, he explained that when stress and anxiety are lowered, so are levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, “which can have an effect” on its ability to heal, he said. Additionally, he emphasized that no two cancer journeys are the same, regardless of their prognoses.
“Living as a statistic—living as an, ‘Ope, I’m terminal’—it doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think that’s the right way to think about it,” Dr. Mirhadi said. “I think the right way to think about [cancer] is that it’s highly variable. Do what you can with your doctors, and do what they offer you, the best you can. Be an advocate for yourself as a patient... Try to learn as much as you can, learn what your options are, learn what would happen if it progresses. But, there is no certainty in what this experience is, which is good, because it gives people hope.”
And hope, to Doherty, right now, is miracle-worthy. “Sometimes you’re looking for miracles in all the wrong places,” she said. “And they’re right there in front of your face.”
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