Shannen Doherty: My cancer exposed people who were not there for me

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Hollywood actress Shannen Doherty has said being diagnosed with breast cancer has changed her life "for the better" because it exposed people who were not there for her.

The former star of Beverly Hills, 90210 has fought a high-profile battle with the disease, documenting her treatment on social media and sharing images of herself shaving her head.

Shannen, 45, was honoured with the American Cancer Society's Courage Award in Los Angeles on Saturday and revealed she was about to undergo radiotherapy after completing chemotherapy.

Shannen Doherty starred in Charmed (AP)
Shannen Doherty (AP)

She told the Press Association: "I'm feeling ridiculously lucky and very blessed. Cancer has changed my life for the better.

"It's made me a better human being. It stripped away all of the walls and the barriers.

"It exposes any lie in your life whatsoever. It exposes who's not really truly there for you and who really is there for you. It's this brilliant thing where you just look around and think, 'Oh my God, this person is amazing, they're showing up for me in a way I never expected'."

Shannen praised her mother Rosa, husband Kurt Iswarienko and friends including actress Sarah Michelle Gellar and comedienne Chelsea Handler for their support during her treatment.

"It's this amazing thing where you look at people and realise their worth and what good hearts they have because they're not running," she added.

"That's what cancer does. It strips everything where everyone, including you, is laid bare."

Shannen Doherty and husband Kurt Iswarienko (AP/PA)
Shannen Doherty and husband Kurt Iswarienko (AP)

Sarah fought back tears as she presented Shannen with her award at the charity's Giants of Science gala at the Four Seasons hotel.

The former Buffy The Vampire Slayer star said: "She has always been a courageous person but over the last year she has become a one-woman army.

"Fearless yet full of heart, crushing cancer like a slayer - takes one to know one. In an age when celebrities are afraid to walk out of the house without make up, Shannen is proudly displaying her shaved head, telling the world if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone."

Shannen Doherty is battling cancer (ET/YouTube/screengrab)
Shannen Doherty is battling cancer (ET/YouTube/screengrab)

Shannen, who also starred in fantasy drama series Charmed, revealed she was fighting breast cancer in August 2015, after being diagnosed in March that year.

She had filed a lawsuit against her former business managers, claiming they left her without health insurance and caused a delay in doctors diagnosing her with the disease. The case was settled in August this year.

Earlier this year she told Entertainment Tonight that her cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. In May, the actress underwent a single mastectomy.