Shannen Doherty reveals she's 'dying' of cancer

In news that's sure to hurt Beverly Hills, 90210 fans' already-fragile hearts, Shannen Doherty revealed her cancer has returned. The news came to light after the actress filed a lawsuit against her insurance company, State Farm, noting in the opening line (per TMZ), "Plaintiff Shannen Doherty is dying of stage 4 terminal cancer." According to E! News, the lawsuit also stated, "Instead of living out her remaining years peacefully in her home, Ms. Doherty remains displaced and battling with her insurance company." The actress' home was damaged by the California wildfires in 2018, and according to E!, Doherty's legal team claims she's being forced to pay out of pocket for things she believes should be covered.

Now, Doherty is speaking out about her health in order to tell the story on her own terms, rather than letting legal paperwork share her personal news. Fans and fellow celebrities have shared an outpouring of love for the 48-year-old actor who's already been through so much in recent years. After fighting through her previous cancer diagnosis and enduring the loss of her co-star and good friend Luke Perry, this ongoing battle is undeniably upsetting. But if fans know anything about Doherty, it's that she's a fighter and holding her head high.

Shannen Doherty wants you to hear it from her

Shannen Doherty opened up about her stage 4 cancer on ABC's Nightline in February 2020. She received the diagnosis in 2019, but kept the news private, including when filming the 90210 reboot (she only told co-star Brian Austin Green.) There was a reason she didn't want everyone to know about her diagnosis. "People can look at that [show] and say, 'Oh my god, she can work and other people with stage 4 can work too,'" she said. "We still have some living to do." 

Doherty kept the news private, partly because she's still processing it, but also because she dreaded how others would potentially react: "They look at you like you're [a] dead man walking." She also didn't want to lose work, which she deemed "another reason to wake up every morning." Though she said she "wasn't prepared" to share her diagnosis yet, she decided to do so to get the news out ahead of the lawsuit with State Farm. "I'd rather people hear it from me," she said. "...I want to control the narrative." 

State Farm addressed the lawsuit in a statement, telling E! News: "We empathize with Ms. Doherty's health issues and wish her a full recovery. We strongly believe we have upheld our commitment to our customer and have paid what we owe on this claim. We are prepared to defend our position in court." Per Nightline, State Farm paid Doherty $1.1 million following the fire.

This isn't Shannen Doherty's first cancer fight

Shannen Doherty publicly battled breast cancer in 2015 and announced she was in remission in 2017. Calling herself the "Cancer Slayer," she wrote at the time: "I am blessed, I know that. But for now.... remission. I'm going to just breathe." 

She learned that her cancer had returned — this time spreading to her bones and lymph nodes — after she felt "some very odd aches" and called her oncologist. "I think in the back of your head, you are always suspecting that this is gonna happen, but I definitely also in another way convinced myself that I'd beaten it," she said on Nightline. "I was the true warrior, I was the true survivor."

While she's leaning heavily on her "ridiculously strong, courageous" mother and her husband, Kurt Iswarienko, for support, Doherty admitted, "It's a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways, I'm not gonna lie." She's finding cancer to be more difficult this time around and admitted point-blank: "I'm not okay, that's the truth." Doherty said she wishes she could stay positive and uplifting, but that's not necessarily realistic, and she didn't want to do a disservice to others also struggling with stage 4 by pretending her experience was all smooth-sailing. "I'm grappling, I haven't found my path and my peace," she said.

Other celebrities are rallying around Shannen Doherty

Once the news became public, Shannen Doherty posted an illustration on Instagram of Snoopy sitting beside Charlie Brown. The image read, "We only live once, Snoopy," to which the beloved pup replied, "Wrong! We only die once. We live everyday." 

Doherty's 90210, Beverly Hills co-star Tori Spelling, commented on that post: "Sending lots of love, support, and animal vibes to make you smile xoxo." Actor Sarah Michelle Gellar posted a pic with Doherty on Instagram and wrote in the caption: "Life is tough... but you are tougher." Stars such as Kelly Ripa, Bethenny Frankel, and Selma Blair all responded to Gellar's post. Alyssa Milano, who appeared on Charmed with Doherty, shared a photo of the actress and wrote: "Holding you tight in my heart..."

During her Nightline interview, Doherty said, "I want to make an impact and I want to be remembered for something bigger than just me." While she's still got time to do that, it's clear that her openness, bravery, and strength in the face of this cancer battle is already having a huge impact on countless others. Along with all the fans on social media, we're sending her so much love.