Cancer does not discriminate. Cancer does not care if you are a man or a woman, young or old, black or white. It does not care what religion you are or if you are a dog lover or if you have a college degree. You can even be a celebrity; a beloved star of everyone’s favorite ’90s show. It can still find you, as it did Shannen Doherty.
Doherty has been notably candid about her battle with breast cancer over the last couple of years. Now in remission, she honored Breast Cancer Awareness Month this week by sharing an Instagram photo that captured the rush of emotions she felt when starting her first round of chemo back in 2015.
The raw image shows her in tears, holding clumps of hair that had fallen out. She says in her caption that she had tried “using a cold cap in hope to not lose my hair” but it came out in clumps anyway.
Her powerful description goes on to describe the tumultuous rollercoaster endured by a woman fighting breast cancer.
“I was sick, felt like I was losing myself,” she writes. “Gained people and lost people. Got weak and got strong. Felt ugly and yet more beautiful inside than I had ever felt before.”
And after you’ve survived this exhausting marathon, Doherty says cancer never actually leaves.
“Cancer has so many phases,” she continues. “Shock, denial, acceptance, anger, resentment, rebellion, fear, appreciation, beauty. Remission. Even then, the phases keep coming. Cancer is with you forever. Those who have experienced it know that even after you’ve kicked its ass, it still impacts you, in good ways and bad. You still go thru the roller coaster of emotions. You still need support and love.”
Her post is an important reminder that those who are in remission aren’t necessary done with the pain — emotional or physical. They fight the fears of it returning. They work to overcome the trauma, the haunting memories. They mourn the loss of loved ones who couldn’t handle it and left. They feel guilt for those who stayed and endured it alongside them. Cancer is a lifelong event, and it takes a village to fight it.
This is why every October, breast cancer comes to the forefront of news stories, conversations, social media posts, fundraisers, and awareness campaigns. With 1 in 8 women diagnosed sometime in their lifetime, the work of Breast Cancer Awareness month is more crucial than ever. And powerful voices of inspiration like Shannen Doherty’s help further the cause, showing that we CAN beat this.
Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation to see how you can help others. Or learn about early detection and how to protect yourself. Or read about what someone you love might need once she receives her diagnosis. Check your boobies, girls. And remind your friends to do the same.
Remember, cancer doesn’t discriminate.