Shannen Doherty Shares Momentous News About Her Breast Cancer

Shannen Doherty shared good news with the world in the spring of 2017 — she’s in remission!

Days prior to the announcement, the actress posted a photo on her Instagram page of her swathed in a blanket in a hospital chair, a pink bandage over her elbow, while prepping for a petscan. “I don’t care how much a person has been poked and prodded, it never gets easier,” she says in the post.

The actress had shaved her head after her hair began falling out due to chemo treatments, and she acknowledged the new growth with pride in her post — while also poking a little fun at it: “Yes…. that is a puff ball on top of my head. Just happy it’s growing!!”

Soon after, she posted a photo of her with her head down, arms crossed over her knees on the floor with the fantastic news she’d been hoping for: she was in remission!

Though Doherty was clearly happy and relieved when sharing the news, she also made it known that she is starkly aware of the importance of the next five years. Deciding her medical treatment therapies and taking care of herself will help keep her healthy, and having regular check-ups will hopefully help catch any recurrences as quickly as possible — but there is no guarantee. Doherty is realistic about the future, but her unflinching focus on staying positive and enjoying each day as it comes is an inspiration to many.

“As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial. Reoccurrences happen all the time. Many of you have shared that very story with me. So with a heart that is certainly lighter, I wait. In the meantime, decisions. Reconstruction which is several surgeries. Decision on taking a pill for the next five years that comes with its own set of problems and side effects. I am blessed, I know that. But for now…. remission. I’m going to just breathe.”

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Chances of local recurrence (in the same spot the cancer started), regional recurrence (near the place it first started, such as the lymph nodes) or distant recurrence (metastasis to other parts of the body, typically the liver, lungs, bones, or brain) are all possibilities — but the chance of local reccurence is greatest within the first five years of remission.

Local recurrence risk can vary depending on clean margins, lymph node involvement, and if the cancer was fueled by hormones or HER2. Radiation therapy reduces the risk of recurrences, as does chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. Treatment plans are tailored to an individual’s specific needs based on their cancer type, location, and severity, among other factors.

We wish the best for Shannen, and we hope that someday no survivor has to worry about the risk of recurrence!

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