The 52-year-old actor, who announced in 2020 that she has stage four breast cancer, took to Instagram on Tuesday to share a video of herself undergoing brain radiation therapy. During the treatment, which kills cancer cells in the brain, Doherty wore a thermoplastic mask that covered her face and neck.
In the caption, Doherty revealed that her cancer had spread, before describing the radition therapy that she first received earlier this year.
“On January 5th, my CT scan showed Mets in my brain. Yesterday’s video was showing the process of getting fitted for the mask which you wear during radiation to your brain,” she wrote, referencing an earlier clip she shared about the brain radiation treatment. “January 12, the first round of radiation took place. My fear is obvious.”
Throughout the video, Doherty was lying on a table with her mask on, while lasers and red lights from a machine were aimed towards her face.
Radiation therapy uses strong beams of energy to kill brain cancer cells, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Along with surgery and chemotherapy, radiation therapy is used to treat brain tumours and to help control the growth of them.
In the caption of her post, the Charmed star acknowledged how nervous she felt during the cancer treatment, before expressing her gratitude for her doctors.
“I am extremely claustrophobic and there was a lot going on in my life,” she continued in the caption. ”I am fortunate as I have great doctors like Dr Amin Mirahdi and the amazing techs at [Cedars-Sinai].”
Still, she noted that her fears are a big part of her life throughout her cancer battle.
“But that fear…. The turmoil….. the timing of it all…. This is what cancer can look like,” she concluded.
Many famous faces went to the comments of Doherty’s post to send her messages of support.
“This is a lot. This is a lot to take on, still again,” Selma Blair wrote. “And I am wishing for all the wise peace you have learned to find you in the terror moments. To know we are holding you. Love. All love.”
“Rooting for you, my irreplaceable friend. You have been such a fearless fighter your whole life, so it’s understandable to be a little scared from time to time,” filmmaker Kevin Smith wrote. “But when those moments pass, let that indomitable Doherty spirit take over anew. I love you so much, my Mallrat.”
Sarah Michelle Gellar added: “You are a warrior.”
The Beverly Hills 90210 star first revealed that she had stage four breast cancer in February 2020 during an appearance on Good Morning America.
“My cancer came back and...that’s why I’m here,” she said on the show, as she noted that she kept her stage four diagnosis private for a year. “I don’t think that I’ve processed it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways.”
Doherty was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and announced that the illness was in remission in April 2017.
In October 2021, she posted candid pictures of her battle with breast cancer, to show fans what the disease really looks like. In one picture, Doherty, who had lost her hair, had a blood-soaked tissue in one nostril while lying in her bed.
“For breast cancer awareness month, I’d like to share more of my own personal journey from my first diagnosis to my second,” she wrote in the caption at the time. “Is it all pretty? NO but it’s truthful and my hope in sharing is that we all become more educated, more familiar with what cancer looks like. I hope I encourage people to get mammograms, to get regular checkups, to cut thru the fear and face whatever might be in front of you.”
She also reflected on her history with breast cancer and how she was first diagnosed in 2015. From there, she said that she had a mastectomy and did chemo and radiation. She also confessed that throughout her chemo, she struggled with “many nose bleeds”.
As noted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nose bleeds can be a common side effect of different cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation.