Power of Support During Cancer
- Beloved actress Shannen Doherty, 52, is set to reunite with cast members of the popular 1990s sitcom "Beverly Hills 90210" at an upcoming convention. The cast has supported Doherty throughout her cancer journey.
- She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. It went into remission in 2017 but returned as stage 4 cancer in 2019.
- Doherty's breast cancer spread to her brain causing her to undergo surgery to remove a tumor in her brain.
- Neurosurgeons tell SurvivorNet that Doherty's prognosis after having the surgery is an encouraging sign of progress.
- Support groups can make a huge impact on cancer patients by helping them navigate their emotions after being diagnosed and throughout cancer treatment. These helpful groups can be made up of family, friends, and mental health professionals.
The cast of "Beverly Hills 90210" are readying themselves for a class reunion at an upcoming “90s Con” event. However, will brave breast cancer warrior Shannen Doherty, 52, join her friends amid ongoing cancer treatments?
Doherty has had a rollercoaster for a year so far that's involved a divorce and brain surgery stemming from her metastatic breast cancer. Surely, reuniting with longtime cast members who have supported her throughout her cancer journey would give the beloved actress an added boost of positive vibes.Read More
"[Doherty was] a very big part of the success of the show. None of us are up here today without Shannen. She's been through a lot," Perry said.
Since the show wrapped up production, Doherty went on to star in several movies and landed a reoccurring role on "Charmed" that lasted from 1998 until 2001. Doherty portrayed Prue Halliwell on the show that focused on three sisters who discovered they were descendants of witches who used their powers to fight against evil forces.
Off-screen, the beloved actress was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. It went into remission in 2017 but returned as stage 4 (or metastatic) in 2019. Metastatic cancer, for which there is no cure, means it has spread to distant areas of the body, like the bones, liver, lungs, or brain.
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This past April, Doherty filed for divorce from her longtime husband Kurt Iswarienko although her agent reportedly said, "Divorce is the last thing Shannen wanted."
In January of this year, Doherty underwent treatment for breast cancer that spread to her brain in a process called brain metastasis.
She shared a series of photos and videos of her getting prepared for radiation treatment on her head. During radiation, high-energy beams are aimed at the location doctors believe cancer cells to be. The MRI helps doctors pinpoint the exact location of the tumor within the skull.
She also underwent a craniotomy brain surgery where doctors worked to remove cancer from her brain.
Board-certified neurosurgeon at Emory University School of Medicine Dr. Kimberly Hoang explained the procedure to SurvivorNet.
"We take off the bone overlaying the area we need to get to. We open the little envelope around the brain called the dura and then we move through the brain tissue to get to where the tumor is to try to cut out as much as we can safely without hurting the patient's function or other important things like big blood vessels that can cause things like a stroke," Dr. Hoang said.
Doherty's prognosis after having surgery to remove cancer from her brain is an encouraging sign of progress several neurosurgeons tell SurvivorNet.
Power of Support
Helping keep Doherty's spirits high throughout these years have been her loved ones comprised of family and friends including cast members of "Beverly Hills 90210." Cancer patients with a support group endure the rigors of their cancer journey better according to SurvivorNet experts.
"Some people don't need to go outside of their family and friends circle. They feel like they have enough support there," psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik told SurvivorNet.
"But for people who feel like they need a little bit more, it's important to reach out to a mental health professional," Dr. Plutchik added.
Dr. Plutchik also stressed it is important for people supporting cancer warriors to understand their emotions can vary day-to-day. "People can have a range of emotionsâ€¦they can include fear, angerâ€¦and these emotions tend to be fluid. They can recede and return based on where someone is in the process," Dr. Plutchik said.
WATCH: Why having a support group is important.
The support helps put your cancer warrior's mind at ease which may be filled with anxiety after a diagnosis or while undergoing treatment.
"Anxiety, depression, financial toxicity, social isolation and PTSD," Dr. Tworoger said are all emotions cancer warriors may experience and can be eased by loved ones.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you're battling cancer or on the other side of it, and you're struggling with your mental health, here are some questions you may consider asking your doctor to get the conversation started:
- Are there local resources for people wishing to improve their mental health?
- What else can I do to help reduce my stress level during my cancer journey?
- It's difficult for me to find happiness and gratitude. How can I find help?