We know celebrities aren’t immune to hardship or trauma just because of their success. But it really hits home when a star is frank about their health issues. Shannen Doherty’s latest breast cancer photos show just how equally refreshing and heartbreaking that can be.
Her photos, which document the moment she had to shave her head, are not the typical filtered, glossy snaps we’ve come to believe celebrities constantly live in. They’re pretty damn raw.
It’s one of many moments that any woman who has ever faced cancer or who ever will face cancer dreads. Avoids. Prays they don’t have to do. And it’s not about vanity; it’s about identity. You see yourself change before your eyes, already bearing the burden of so much change and fear. I can only imagine that it feels like a confirmation of, yes, you are in fact fighting cancer. Any shred of denial likely goes with the hair.
She spoke to Dr. Oz earlier this year on Entertainment Tonight about her breast cancer, and he later opened up about the interview, saying, “She had to come to grips with the fear — sometimes that fear has paralyzed her over the past year.” He continued, “That’s why a bright woman has sat with a cancer in her breast for that long. We run from the things we fear — I think she’s embracing it now.”
It’s heartbreaking, but it’s something so many women can relate to (about 1 in 8 women, to be exact). Even if you’ve never battled cancer, you know that hardship is easier to face when you have support and a sense of community — when you know you’re not the only one. So the very act of sharing these photos of a moment that is so less than perfect is actually quite perfect. There’s a mood in them that is, yes, sad, but it’s also comforting to see her friends and family standing with her.
I’m sure many women are thanking Doherty for putting this out there without a coat of sugar, and we’re definitely sending happy thoughts in her direction.
In Doherty’s “chemo day” post, she shows us that, sure, there are bad days, but you have to remind yourself to wipe the tears, pull your chin up and #fightlikeagirl.
Even while getting her chemo, Doherty still manages to put a smile on her face.
Just one day after chemo, Doherty hit the gym to move her body and shake her booty — to help with the healing process.
After chemo day. I believe that just moving helps so much in the healing process. Its not always easy and sometimes I cant do it the next day but I try to make an effort to get the blood flowing and the toxins out of my body thru working out. Some days are easy workouts and other days I push it but the key is to MOVE!!! This is for any illness. Obviously check with your doctor. The road to recovery is paved with all sorts of different material. #beastmode #fightlikeagirl #warrior
On Oct. 23, Doherty then shared a sweet shout out to Chelsea Handler, thanking her for her support.
Doherty posted a video on Nov. 17 with her reconstructive surgeon.
On Jan. 4, 2017, Doherty posted a video of herself moving her body, calling herself a #cancerslayer. Get. It.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.
This article was originally published July 2016 and updated January 2017.