'Everybody's terminal': Shannen Doherty opens up about cancer to Sarah Michelle Gellar

Doherty was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and revealed in February that it had returned.
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Gellar and Doherty have been friends since they starred in separate TV shows in the '90s on The WB.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for Hallmark Channel
/ Source: TODAY

Shannen Doherty says she is feeling strong and healthy as she lives with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis.

The former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star opened up about how she’s been coping with her diagnosis in an interview for Entertainment Tonight with her close friend, Sarah Michelle Gellar.

"I love it when people say, 'We're praying for you,' and everything else, but there comes a point when you're like, 'I got this. I'm fine. I'm good,'" Doherty, 49, said. "There are a lot of people in the world who could use prayers, and I'm feeling great. ... I'm doing OK. I'm doing better than OK. I'm doing well. I feel strong and healthy and confident and happy."

Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and went into remission two years later. This past February, she revealed that the cancer had returned.

In her candid conversation with Gellar, Doherty talked about how she shared the news of her diagnosis with her closest friends. She and her husband, photographer Kurt Iswarienko, organized a quiet dinner at home, and she invited her oncologist to come to answer any questions people might have.

“I had just gotten diagnosed, and I wanted you ... and the closest people in my life to be told ... because I'm the type of person, I'd just call you and be like, ‘Listen, I got stage 4. It's back and I'll be OK.’ But I knew that particularly someone like you would have more questions,” Doherty told Gellar.

“So, for me to have Dr. Piro, my oncologist, be there so that he could answer the questions in a very matter-of-fact way, he was able to sort of squash any doubts that people had or to say, ‘Hey, don't Google, because when you do that you're going to get some crazy, like, this short of period of time to live,’ and that's just really not the case,” she said. “It was really to help you guys.”

Gellar, 43, said she appreciated the opportunity to ask honest questions about Doherty’s diagnosis.

“I think that's the hardest thing. ... You never know as the friend, the family, what is your place (and) what are you supposed to do,” she said. “And to be able to have an open forum where you can ask those questions and understand is the greatest gift. I think it helps us be a better support system for you.”

Gellar and Doherty have been good friends since the '90s, when they each starred in hit teen dramas on The WB — Gellar in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and Doherty in “Charmed.”

In their recent ET interview, Gellar said she is proud of her friend for how open she’s been about her diagnosis.

“Nobody ever wants to see their friend suffer, but I think more than that — and I think this year has been proof of that — is that life is short and vulnerable for all of us,” Gellar said. “We have to live for each moment because there is a clock for everybody. I think people forget that.”

"Right? Everybody's terminal,” Doherty replied. “I might live a lot longer than somebody who's perfectly healthy. You have no idea. Also, there are so many different clinical trials going on at the moment. I think that almost every cancer patient is sort of chasing it. You're chasing the meds. Your meds keep working and working and working, and then at some point, perhaps your body shuts down to them, and you run out of different protocols to use. But really, you're just hoping that by the time that happens, they have something else. And normally they do."