Shannen Doherty on Dream of Having Kids, Despite Cancer Battle

Shannen Doherty paused efforts to have kids once she began fighting for her life.

In late 2023, Shannen revealed that her cancer has spread to her bones.

The beloved television star very much wants to live amidst her renewed cancer battle, but is also preparing for the worst.

Though Shannen has a long history of acting and activism, she does not have children. And the reason for that is closely tied to her ongoing health struggle.

Shannen Doherty in October of 2019.
Shannen Doherty poses for a portrait in the Getty Images & People Magazine Portrait Studio at Hallmark Channel and American Humanes 2019 Hero Dog Awards at the Beverly Hilton on October 05, 2019. (Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Hallmark Channel)

Shannen Doherty has grappled with cancer before

In 2015, Shannen Doherty first received her breast cancer diagnosis. Things seemed very dire, until the good news came.

By 2017, the actress was in remission. This was wonderful news, but it was also hard-fought. Doherty had undergone chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery in order to defeat the cancer that thretened her life.

Tragically, in 2020, her cancer returned. This time, her cancer was Stage 4 and metastatic — having extended beyond her breasts and lymph nodes. Though Doherty’s prospects look grim enough that she’s making funeral plans, she continues to fight for her life.

Shannen Doherty poses in August of 2019.
Shannen Doherty attends the FOX Summer TCA 2019 All-Star Party at Fox Studios on August 7, 2019. (Photo Credit: MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

On the Monday, April 1 episode of her Let’s Be Clear podcast, Shannen Doherty spoke about her past desire for kids.

She expressed that she had been “desperately” trying to become pregnant using IVF during her marriage to Kurt Iswarienko. Their marriage spanned over a decade, from 2011 until she filed for divorce in April of 2023.

“Not only did I want a child for myself, but I wanted it for my husband,” Shannen explained. “I wanted it for our marriage, I wanted him to have that part of himself fulfilled as well.”

Shannen Doherty in Beverly Hills, California in 2019.
Shannen Doherty walks the carpet at the Farrah Fawcett Foundation’s “Tex-Mex Fiesta” honoring Marcia Cross at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California, on September 6, 2019. (Photo Credit: LISA O’CONNOR/AFP via Getty Images)

Did IVF hormones play a role in Shannen Doherty’s cancer?

Doherty recalled how, at the time, she “believed that the reason why I got cancer was because I did IVF.”

She explained that she came to believe this due to anecdotal observation. It sounds like Doherty no longer believes this — which is good, because there is no clinical proof that IVF is a significant breast cancer risk factor.

Doherty’s concerns about the causes of her cancer apparently led her to decline Tamoxifen, a potent medication that helps prevent breast cancer, after her 2017 remission. Her hesitation is understandable; her current regrets are even more so.

Between her age, her cancer, and the treatments for that cancer, Doherty has discussed options for having children that do not involve conceiving.

Even before her cancer’s 2020 return, she had expressed concerns about adopting a child … only to die when her child is still, well, a kid.

In December of 2023, Shannen Doherty spoke to Entertainment Tonight about the potential for adopting kids one day if a miraculous cancer treatment gives her the opportunity.

Cancer has shaped Shannen Doherty’s outlook on having kids

“I have looked at adopting, and all sorts of different options,” she told ET. “I think I struggle a lot with my cancer diagnosis, and how fair it is (to a child).”

Doherty detailed: “I’m in treatment, and I’m gonna see if that treatment works, see what’s coming down the pipeline, what clinical trials (are available).”

She concluded: “And if I feel like I can give a long enough time to a child, then I’ll definitely do it.”

Shannen Doherty and Sarah Michelle Gellar in 2019.
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Shannen Doherty pose for a portrait in the Getty Images & People Magazine Portrait Studio at Hallmark Channel and American Humanes 2019. (Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Hallmark Channel )

That doesn’t mean that Doherty hasn’t spent time with children. Her friends, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr., are parents to 14-year-old Charlotte and 11-year-old Rocky.

On a recent episode of Let’s Be Clear, Doherty and Gellar discussed how Doherty helped with Gellar’s children early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You gave my children such a life in COVID and I was really struggling with how to give them that freedom and that room to be kids and have adventures,” Gellar praised. “And you opened your home to us in COVID in a way that I will for the rest of my life be grateful for.”

Shannen Doherty gave so much to to Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr.’s kids

“You gave them adventures and just, freedom. And I can never repay that because that was such a difficult time and so seeing my kids that happy and giving me a break,” Gellar gushed.

“People don’t know this, but Shannen sat there sometimes while they were on Zoom school and helped them,” she noted. “And we would have blackouts and she would plan adventures.”

Sometimes, caring for children comes in different forms than we expect. Being family doesn’t always happen by blood or by marriage. But there’s always a chance that Doherty could have her own children one day. We hope that she gets that chance.

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