Shannen Doherty got real about scarring, hair loss, and breast reconstruction after cancer

Shannen Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, and she chronicled her journey—and eventual remission—through social media. She’s even continued to share updates from followup appointments, showing the world how cancer can continue to impact a person for years—even when they are technically “well” again. In a recent interview with Health published on February 7th, the Charmed actress continued to get candid about her cancer experience, including the toll it took on her mind and body.

"I remember I got in the shower to wash my hair, and it just started coming out in clumps," she recalled when talking about chemo. "I started screaming for my mom. I think that was harder than the surgeries. It was like, 'Oh my God, this is real.'"

Doherty said she then shaved her head with the help of a friend, which she described as “a fun experience, considering that I was devastated.” Chemo also caused Doherty to gain weight, and she said that the cancer caused her to visibly age because it essentially put her body in menopause. However, she personally says she finds the scars the most difficult thing to get used to.

"Every time I get out of the shower, I look, and it’s like, 'Oh my God, I’m Frankenstein,'" she told Health.

Doherty underwent a single mastectomy, and as a result, she later decided to have reconstructive surgery. Instead of getting implants, the 47-year-old opted for a procedure that used her own tissue. She explained that although the surgery was difficult, she made the choice because she wanted to “go under the knife as little as humanly possible,” and breast implants aren’t permanent and could require follow-up surgeries.

She also opened up about the way that her cancer affected her marriage with husband Kurt Iswarienko. At one point, she remembered being so sick from chemo that she couldn’t lift her head, but when she heard her husband say, “Please don’t leave me,” she found the strength to keep going. “Kurt and I got through one of the worst things a couple can go through, and we came out stronger,” she said.

Now, Doherty explained that she is learning to embrace her body as it is. She said she has started seeing a nutritionist and taking boxing classes.

"Importantly, my perception of sexy has changed," she noted. "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?"

Doherty’s strength and candor are awe-inspiring. We’re so glad she’s currently in remission, and we’re thankful that she has decided to share her cancer journey with the world. We know it will help so many others feel less alone.

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