Shannen Doherty's Honest 'Chemo Day' Photo Reminds Us What Cancer Takes Away

by Christine Organ
Originally Published: 
Photo Credit: Instagram

Shannen Doherty shares vulnerable but hopeful photo showing that chemo is no joke

Shannen Doherty has been open and honest about her struggle with breast cancer since she was diagnosed in 2015. But her latest photo showing the debilitating side of chemo just might be one of the most moving and powerful she photos she’s shared yet.

In a #FBF (or Flashback Friday) post on Instagram, Doherty shared a photo of her lying in the hospital bed after one of her chemo treatments. The post isn’t only moving for its raw and vulnerable image, but also for Doherty’s real talk about the ugly side of cancer. “Day after #chemoday isn’t always so great,” she wrote. “Sometimes one isn’t able to dance, or eat or even to think about the next day.”

But true to form, along with Doherty’s willingness to show the raw and personal side of cancer, she does so with optimism and hope. “Sometimes it just feels like you aren’t going to make it,” she wrote. “That passes. Sometimes the next day or 2 days later or 6 but it passes and movement is possible. Hope is possible. Possibility is possible.”

Doherty first shared her cancer diagnosis with the world in 2015 when she filed a lawsuit against her former managers for letting her health insurance lapse, which she says caused a delay in diagnosis and treatment of her cancer. In August, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Doherty announced that unfortunately her cancer had spread.

Throughout the entire ordeal, Doherty has been open and honest about the ugly truth of cancer. She’s shared photos of shaving her hair, a video of her post-chemo workout, and in a recent photo of Doherty with her mom, she wrote, “sometimes you just want to collapse on the couch and watch tv with your mom.”

Earlier this month, she shared a video of the chemo needle being inserted into the port in her chest, along with a shout-out to her oncology team. “I’m lucky to have such a great team…I don’t enjoy chemo day or needle like things in my chest or my port but, at least with this crew it’s not so bad. Make sure you connect not only with your oncologist but also with the person administering your chemo.”

Despite the pink-washing of October with pink ribbons on everything, there’s nothing pretty about cancer. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer in her thirties. I was there for her first chemo treatment, and the feel-like-you-won’t-make-it aftermath of chemo that Doherty talks about. There’s no sugar-coating here — it fucking sucks.

But like Doherty said in her Instagram post, it passes. You move through the hellish shit storm of vomiting and exhaustion and hair loss that isn’t made even a little bit better by cute hats or stylist wigs. There are surgeries and infections and scars and a whole lot of awful shit. And no matter how much we say fuck cancer or tell cancer patients they are badass (which of course they are), no matter how many pink socks or pink cellphone covers we buy, cancer fucking sucks. All of it sucks. There is no way around it; there is only through it. Which is just what Doherty is doing.

We first fell in love with her as Brenda Walsh on 90210, but now our love for her is mixed with admiration and mad respect. Not only does Doherty’s photo have thousands of positive comments and words of encouragement, but even as she’s going through the hellish ordeal, she still offers inspiration to her fans, supporters, and anyone else going through cancer.

“To my cancer family and everyone suffering…. stay courageous. Stay strong. Stay positive.”


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