Embracing a New Mindset during a Cancer Battle
- Actress Shannen Doherty is currently battling stage four breast cancer, but she is thriving. We’ve seen her embrace her goals for 2022 and even reconcile with actress Alyssa Milano – a former Charmed co-star she did not always get along with.
- Metastatic breast cancer – also called “stage four” breast cancer – means that the cancer has spread, or metastasized, beyond the breasts to other parts of the body. There is technically no cure, but advancements in treatments can dramatically improve outcomes and that is something to be hopeful for.
- Cancer can change your perspective on life in surprising ways. Danielle Ripley-Burgess, a two-time colon cancer survivor, says her cancer journey helped her uncover “some beautiful things: Wisdom. Love. Life purpose. Priorities.”
The 50-year-old actress, best known for her roles in Heathers, Charmed and Beverly Hills, 90210, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 after finding a lump in her breast. At first, she was treated with hormone therapy, but this effort turned out to be ineffective as the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.Read More
Then, she underwent a single mastectomy to remove one of her breasts, chemotherapy and radiation. She was in remission until 2019, when she discovered her breast cancer had returned. This time, the cancer had spread to other parts of her body making it a metastatic, or stage four, cancer diagnosis.
Shannen Doherty’s Goals for 2022
Even still, Doherty has managed to keep doing what she loves: acting. She’s currently working on a new film called Hot Seat starring Mel Gibson. And one of her most recent films, List of a Lifetime, touched upon the topic of breast cancer and the BRCA gene mutation that can increase your risk of the disease and was even nominated for a Critics Choice Award in the category of ‘Best Movie Made for Television.’
As far as her goals for the new year, Doherty has a few. Ideally, she’d love to push for more research surrounding breast cancer.
“If I were dreaming of what would happen in 2022, I think lot more research and progression as far as finding the cure for cancer is my ultimate, ultimate dream because even though I am thriving and I’m doing well, I still have cancer and you don’t want stage four, but I have it and so I think in the back of my mind, this constant sort of OK, ‘What can I do to help bring more awareness, what can I do the help raise money, what can I do to sort of push research for not just myself but for everybody else who is suffering from cancer?'” Doherty said.
Beyond that, she also wants this year to be all about continuing to work and embrace all the precious relationships she’s been blessed with.
“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 and and I hope their work continues to grow and it only gets better,” she said. “I just I hope that next year, work-wise continues. I hope I continue to get these opportunities and that I continue to work with people that I’ve always admired and wanted to work with.”
And in the relationship department, we’re happy to say that we’ve even heard that a formerly rocky relationship with Charmed co-star Milano has been reconciled after years of tension on the show.
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“I would say we are cordial,” Milano shared. “You know, I could take responsibility for a lot of our tension that we had. I think a lot of our struggle came from feeling that I was in competition rather than it being that sisterhood that the show was so much about. And I have some guilt about my part in that.”
Milano even said that the two have been in touch throughout Doherty’s cancer battle.
“When I heard about her diagnosis, I reached out to her… And I will send her DMs every couple of months to just check in,” Milano said. “I have respect for her. Great actress, loves her family so much, and I just wish I could’ve felt strong enough in who I was to recognize that back then.”
Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer – also called “stage four” breast cancer – means that the cancer has spread, or metastasized, beyond the breasts to other parts of the body. It most commonly spreads to the bones, liver and lungs, but it may also spread to the brain or other organs.
And while there is technically no cure for metastatic breast cancer, there are a wide variety of treatment options used to battle the disease including hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drugs, immunotherapy and a combination of various treatments.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Elizabeth Comen, an oncologist with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, explained how she tries to management breast cancer when it has progressed to a later stage.
“With advanced disease, the goal of treatment is to keep you as stable as possible, slow the tumor growth and improve your quality of life,” she said.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer, but there are so many breast cancer survivors and people living with the disease today. The American Cancer Society reports that there were more than 3.8 million U.S. women with a history of breast cancer alive at the start of 2019. Some of the women were cancer-free, and others still had evidence of the disease, but they also reported that more than 150,000 breast cancer survivors were living with metastatic disease, three-fourths of whom were originally diagnosed with stage I-III. And with ongoing advancements in treatments and options out there today that can dramatically reduce symptoms, there are many reasons to be hopeful.
New Perspectives after a Cancer Diagnosis
Danielle Ripley-Burgess, a two-time colon cancer survivor, is another resilient cancer survivor like Doherty. She was first diagnosed with colon cancer in high school and proceeded to beat the disease not once, but twice. Understandably so, Ripley-Burgess has had to work through a lot of complex emotions that came with her cancer journey. Even still, she’s always managed to look at life with a positive attitude.
“As I’ve worked through the complex emotions of cancer, I’ve uncovered some beautiful things: Wisdom. Love. Life purpose. Priorities,” she previously told SurvivorNet. “I carry a very real sense that life is short, and I’m grateful to be living it! This has made me optimistic. Optimism doesn’t mean that fear, pain and division don’t exist – they do. Our world is full of negativity, judgment, and hate. Optimism means that I believe there’s always good to be found despite the bad, and this is what my life is centered around.”
She moves through life with a sense of purpose unique to someone who’s been faced with the darkest of times. Happily in remission today, she’s determined to, one day, leave the world better than she found it.
“We can choose to stay positive, treat others with respect and look for the light in spite of the darkness,” she said. “This type of attitude and behavior will lead to the kind of legacies I believe all of us hope to leave.”