Blessed with loyal friends, Shannen Doherty is sharing her first private photo since her stunning revelation that her breast cancer had returned, now a stage 4 diagnosis. “I’m a lucky girl,” she writes on Instagram next to a photo taken with her friend, model Anne Marie Kortright, as the two sit in a leafy restaurant. “This one here has stood by my side since the day we met.”
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I’m a lucky girl. This one here has stood by my side since the day we met. We always laugh. Always have deep conversations and always focus on how to lift each other up. Friends like this are rare and precious. Love you @annemkortright
Like a true-blue friend, Kortright posted the same photo on her own instagram, saying, “I’ll always have your back! @theshando ????”
“We always laugh,” Daughterty continues. “Always have deep conversations and always focus on how to lift each other up.” Lifting up was a key theme in Doherty’s last post, where she confessed “To say I have stress is an understatement. To say that I’m struggling is mild.”
Please Know How Much You All Help Lift Me
But, she added, it was the support of friends that sustained her. ” I believe that I will find my footing. I’ll dig deep for the inner strength I need to face it all. I pray I do it all with dignity and grace. I have so much to say. So much to share. I will. For now… please know how much you all help lift me.”
She finished her message about Kortright with a heartfelt thought: “Friends like this are rare and precious. Love you @annemkortr”
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I want to thank all of you for your love, prayers and support. It’s an odd time right now and I find my feet not completely underneath me. To say I have stress is an understatement. To say that I’m struggling is mild. But… I believe that I will find my footing. I’ll dig deep for the inner strength I need to face it all. I pray I do it all with dignity and grace. I have so much to say. So much to share. I will. For now… please know how much you all help lift me.
In Doherty’s comment section on today’s post, Kortright sent the love right back: “You are stuck with me forever!!! Real friends is when you can be your true self and that’s how I feel with you always. Love you to the moon and back! #Bananas ???? @theshando”
Shannen Doherty’s Cancer Journey
In 2015, Doherty found a lump in her breast that a biopsy determined was cancerous, she told Health. She initially tried to fight the disease through hormone therapy but the cancer spread to her lymph nodes. A year after her diagnosis, she had a single mastectomy and underwent courses of chemotherapy and radiation followed by reconstructive surgery.
After facing cancer, Doherty’s relationship with her body changed. “I love that my body is strong and that it has the ability to fight something like cancer,” she said. “Importantly, my perception of sexy has changed. For me now, sexy is strength. Sexy is vulnerability. Sexy is compassion. Sexy is grace. Why should I care so much about the physical shell?”
At the time she acknowledged that the treatment had caused her to enter menopause, making pregnancy impossible without taking hormone pills. She decided against it due to fear that estrogen levels can increase the chance of cancer returning. While considering other options to become a mother, she expressed her concerns over how long she had until relapsing.
Dealing With a Late-Stage Breast Cancer Diagnosis
While we don’t know the specifics of Doherty’s breast cancer, the treatment for metastatic disease can vary significantly depending on the features of an individual woman’s cancer.
Treatment options include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted drugs. Sometimes surgery and/or radiation is considered. The goal is to keep you as stable as possible, slow the tumor growth and improve quality of life, Dr. Erica Mayer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told SurvivorNet in a previous conversation.
Dr. Erica Mayer explains hormone therapy options available for breast cancer patients.
These drugs are primarily used in women with hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer. When they are combined with other hormone therapy, many women can have up to two years of their cancer not getting any worse. A common side effect was a decrease in white blood cells which can increase the risk of infection.
What’s Next for Breast Cancer and Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy has been a game-changing treatment option when it comes to treating several cancers. But until recently, researchers hadn’t had much success using the therapy to fight breast cancer. That’s changing now.
Dr. Sylvia Adams talks about breast cancer and immunotherapy
“The question now becomes, is it only triple negative,” Dr. Sylvia Adams, a medical oncologist at NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center, said to SurvivorNet in a previous interview.
“If a tumor has the PD-L1 protein in it, that means there’s already an inflammatory response, that the patient’s immune system already recognized the tumor and was starting to work against it. The benefit of identifying such a strong biomarker in the triple-negative subset will allow us to actually test for the presence and responsiveness to immunotherapy in other subtypes of breast cancer.”