Shannen Doherty reveals breast cancer is back, now stage 4

"It’s a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways," Doherty said. "I don't think that I've processed it."

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

The actress Shannen Doherty revealed Tuesday that she got a second diagnosis of breast cancer, this time stage 4, about a year ago.

The "90210" and "Charmed" actress said she is going public with the diagnosis now because "it's going to come out in a matter of days or a week."

"I don't think that I've processed it. It's a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways," Doherty said in an interview that aired Tuesday on ABC News' "Good Morning America."

Shannen Doherty at a Paramount network launch party in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, 2018.Earl Gibson III / Getty Images file

Doherty, 48, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and underwent treatment for about two years before announcing in 2017 that she was in remission.

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She said that after both the initial diagnosis and the more recent one, "my first reaction is always concern about, 'How am I going to tell my mom? My husband?'"

"My mom is a ridiculously strong, courageous human being. So is my husband, but I worry about him," Doherty said.

"I'm petrified. I'm pretty scared," she added.

"There are definitely days where I say, 'Why me?' And then I go, 'Why not me? Who else?'" Doherty said. "Who else besides me deserves this? None of us do."

Doherty said that dealing with "90210" co-star Luke Perry's sudden death after he suffered a stroke at age 52 last year also had her asking why.

"Why wasn't it me? It was so weird for me to be diagnosed and then somebody who was seemingly healthy to go first," Doherty said.

She said she decided to act in the "90210" reboot, "BH90210," in part to honor Perry.

She also kept filming, working 16-hour days, to prove she "can work, and other people with stage 4 can work, too."

"You know, our life doesn't end the minute we get that diagnosis. We still have some living to do," Doherty said. But still, "I had moments of great anxiety where I thought I can't really do this."

So she confided in co-star Brian Austin Green on set.

"Brian was the one person of that group that knew that I told pretty quickly," Doherty said. "Prior to shooting, he would always call me and say, 'Listen, whatever happens, like, I have your back.'"

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Doherty said she knew her most recent diagnosis would be made public soon because her health struggle is mentioned in a lawsuit she has filed against the insurance company State Farm.

"I'd rather people hear it from me," Doherty said. "I don't want it to be twisted. I don't want it to be a court document."

Doherty says in her lawsuit that the insurer denied claims she made after her house was damaged in the Woolsey Fire, which devastated parts of Southern California in 2018.

"I communicated with my insurance company. I called. I got passed around from claims adjuster to claims adjuster, so I ended up suing State Farm," Doherty said. "And the result has been one of the most horrific processes I have ever been through."

State Farm said in a statement to NBC News that the company empathizes with Doherty's "health issues, and wish her a full recovery," but "we strongly believe we have upheld our commitment to our customer and have paid what we owe on this claim. We are prepared to defend our position in court."

Doherty said she is taking on State Farm because "I want to be remembered for something bigger than just me."

"I'm taking a stand for all of us," she said, "through this lawsuit and by saying enough is enough, with big business and corporations running the little person over."

Attorneys for Doherty said they don't believe the "pertinent information" of the actress' complaint ever went beyond "a low-to-mid-level corporate attorney" before she spoke to ABC.

"We have to believe higher level executives would not have rushed to the same unreasonable, unreasoned and callous positions that have cost Shannen dearly in time, energy and emotional well-being all while suffering a terminal illness," the attorneys said in a statement Wednesday.