The Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed star, 52, shared the health update on social media on Tuesday, but revealed she learned of the development during a Jan. 5 CT scan.
"That fear.... The turmoil..... The timing of it all.... This is what cancer can look like," she wrote, along with a video of her crying as she began radiation.
The TV star, who began as a child star on Little House on the Prairie and ruled the small screen in the '90s and early '00s as Brenda Walsh and Prue Halliwell, first went public with her breast cancer diagnosis in 2015. Here's what she's shared about her battle through the years.
2015: Doherty was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in March
Her diagnosis was made public in August in a lawsuit Doherty filed against her former business manager. She alleged the manager ignored a bill for her 2014 Screen Actors Guild health insurance, causing her coverage to lapse. She wasn't able to reenroll until 2015, and didn't visit her doctors as she usually did while she was uninsured. When she received her diagnosis, of "invasive breast cancer metastatic to at least one lymph node," she was "informed that her cancer had spread during 2014 (when she was uninsured)."
2016: Doherty underwent a single mastectomy in May
"The unknown is always the scariest part," she shared. "Is the chemo going to work? Is the radiation going to work? 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 settled her lawsuit with her manager over her health insurance.
She said her dog was the first to detect her cancer, obsessively sniffing her right side where the tumor was.
In October, Doherty gave an in-depth interview to friend Chelsea Handler, saying her new appearance — after losing her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes — was a lot to get used to and left her feeling "insecure." She also shared the "beautiful and hard and interesting" thing about cancer was that "it tears you down, and builds you, and tears you down, and builds you and it remakes you so many different times. So the person that I thought I was supposed to be, or was going to be, or who I thought I was six months ago is now somebody completely different."
Doherty received the Courage Award at the American Cancer Society's Giants of Science Gala in November. In her speech, she said, "Cancer has been my teacher. It's taught me what love, strength, friendship and support truly looks like. It's opened my eyes to myself and it's allowed me to not only share my journey with people but it's actually allowed me to share my inner self with anybody who actually wanted to know what it was like. And the end result is that I am nothing but vulnerability and, to me, vulnerability is courage."
She completed chemo and radiation in October, sharing on social media that, "The waiting game is here. Waiting to see if I'm clear or not. Waiting for reconstruction. Waiting. I think when one gets cancer, they are always waiting to a certain extent."
2017: After eight rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Doherty entered remission in April.
"As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial," she said. "Reoccurrences happen all the time."
Doherty said every ache and pain she experienced caused her worry her cancer was back. "You find yourself going: Oh, I have that pain too. Does that mean I'm getting bone cancer?" she said. "There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wake up going: Oh, is this normal? ... The thing about cancer is that you have to just keep plowing through because it can really sort of overtake you."
2018: Doherty underwent breast reconstruction surgery two years after her mastectomy and three years after her diagnosis.
At the Stand Up to Cancer event in September, Doherty said cancer had given her a new outlook on life: "I hate to be the person who goes, 'Oh my God, the sky is so blue all of the sudden.' But you really start noticing a lot more things around you, and appreciating everything."
Doherty's Malibu home sustained smoke damage in the Woolsey Fire in November.
2019: Doherty told Health magazine in March she still wanted to start a family with her husband, Kurt Iswarienko, but admitted "there's fear there."
Doherty's cancer returns in the summer, but she processed the news privately.
She went ahead and shot the BH90210 reunion despite her health setback — doing so in honor of the late Luke Perry, who died suddenly at the start of the year. She did promotion for the project with her former co-stars.
Doherty opened up about her health to Yahoo Entertainment in December, saying cancer "allowed me to be more vulnerable. I used to have a big wall around me and it was quite hard for me to let people in... Cancer just ripped that wall completely down. It just opens your heart, at least it did for me." She also talked about how it made her priorities shift: "You look at your life and sometimes you just say, yeah, this is not what's gonna fulfill me, this is not what’s gonna make me happy. I'm quite picky now about being an actor and sort of what I want to do. I don't have the same drive or ambition as I used to have in my 20s and 30s, where I worked constantly and didn’t really take breaks. I felt like I had to prove something. I don't really have anything to prove at this point in my life."
She got candid about having to make peace with her body amid the toll cancer had taken on it. "I'm never going to be the size I used to be," she said. "Some of my meds that I'm on keep zapping the collagen out of me, so I'm never going to have a wrinkle-free face. I'm critical of myself. But there are some things you can’t fight. I'm trying to be kinder to myself."
2020: In June, Doherty publicly revealed that her breast cancer was back and it was stage 4.
She said on Good Morning America, "It's a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways. I definitely have days where I say, 'Why me?' And then I go, 'Well why not me? Who else? Who else beside me deserves this?' None of us do." She said the reason she kept quiet for a year was because she wanted to prove that she was still able to work. She said the reason she was speaking out was because of another lawsuit — with her insurance company over the damage to her home in the Woolsey Fire — would be exposing it. "I'd rather people hear it from me."
The court documents surface and state that "Plaintiff Shannen Doherty is dying of stage 4 terminal cancer. Instead of living out her remaining years peacefully in her home, Ms. Doherty remains displaced and battling with her insurance company."
Doherty said in an interview with pal Sarah Michelle Gellar, "I want people to not hear stage 4 cancer and think of the person that is gray and falling over and they can't move and they're going into hospice and they can't work. You get written off so quickly, even though you're vital and healthy and happy and wanting to go out there and work. So, I'm sharing in order to hopefully give a different face to all of this."
However, she also admitted she was "struggling" with her cancer resurgence.
2021: Doherty continued to work. While promoting the film Lifetime movie List of a Lifetime in which she played a woman battling cancer, she said that she never complained about her cancer. "I don't really talk about it. It's part of life at this point."
She told ABC News in October that she was going to "keep fighting to stay alive."
The same month, Doherty won her lawsuit against her insurance company of the Woolsey Fire damage.
2022: She said her goals for the year are for "a lot more research and progression as far as finding the cure for cancer," calling it her "ultimate, ultimate dream because even though I am thriving and I’m doing well, I still have cancer and you don’t want stage 4, but I have it... Realistically, I hope that my health just continues to be stable and that I continue the relationships with my husband and my mom and my friends."
2023: Doherty attended '90s Con in March to talk Charmed and said she's feeling "great."
In April, it was announced she was divorcing Iswarienko after 11 years of marriage. Her publicist claimed Iswarienko's agent was "intimately involved" in the split.
In June, Doherty shared on social media that her cancer spread to her brain. She posted two videos showing her getting a CT scan on Jan. 5 in January which determined she had metastases on her brain. A second video, from Jan. 12, was of her beginning radiation again.
"My fear is obvious," she wrote. "I am extremely claustrophobic and there was a lot going on in my life," amid the end of her marriage. She thanked her doctors and the techs at her hospital, adding, "But that fear…. The turmoil….. the timing of it all…. This is what cancer can look like."