Breast cancer survivor Shannen Doherty is on a mission to convince women to get screenings

In California alone, the American Cancer Society estimates close to 28,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. This comes at a time when many women are struggling with access to care.

Actress and activist Shannen Doherty is doing her part to combat that in light of her own experience with breast cancer.

Breast cancer screenings go on all the time but Doherty, best known as Brenda Walsh on the hit show 90210, is committed to doing her part to get as many women as possible to get mammograms.

"I'm standing here for encouragement. I'm standing here to pay it forward and I'm just standing here to say go get screened," Doherty said.

Elizabeth Ramirez of East Los Angeles heeded her call.

"She was talking about coming here for free mammograms because I don't have medical right now," Ramirez said.

Doherty knows exactly what that's like. In 2015, her medical insurance had lapsed so she had to wait to get a mammogram after detecting a lump. Doherty doesn't want that to happen to any other woman.

"I had tons of chemo. I had tons of radiation," Doherty said. "Because I waited, the end result was much worse than it needed to be."

Doherty teamed up with Stand Up to Cancer, Genentech, Lifesaving Images and the Comprehensive Community Health Centers in Glendale in order to spread the message.

"Our goal is really simple: to get the word out about the importance of cancer screening and early detection," said Dr. Sung Poblete with Stand Up to Cancer.

In California, 60% of women who were within the recommended guidelines received an annual mammogram in the last year. Los Angeles has lower screening rates compared to other cities in our state.

"We want to increase those numbers here and get women to be more proactive about their health," Poblete said.

Breast cancer runs in Ramirez' family, so she's grateful for the opportunity.

"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed," she said. "Hoping that there's nothing there."

Doherty has been in remission since 2017. She was diagnosed at age 44 and believes the earlier you get screened, the better. She compares it to putting your oxygen mask on first on an airplane.

"You don't want to deal with cancer in late stages," Doherty said. "So just get screened. It's literally putting the oxygen mask on."
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