“I’m sick, but I’m still here,” said actress Shannen Doherty in an article for People. “I have cancer, but I will still be here tomorrow.” Not many actresses are as determined to stay on top of their game while fighting a fierce battle with breast cancer. But Shannen Doherty is no ordinary woman; she has always insisted on living life to the fullest all the while doing what it takes to succeed both personally and professionally.

Doherty was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 after experiencing pain during her shower routine. “It hurt like hell,” she recalls in her memoir The Truth about Love (2012). “A girl punched me hard, right below my nipple.” Doctors assured the young starlet that the lump was benign, but Doherty wasn’t so convinced so she requested to have it removed just in case. When doctors finally took a look at the tumor, they were shocked. “The cancer had metastasized into my lymph nodes and surrounding tissues,” said Doherty. They recommended emergency surgery without delay–Doherty had stage IIIC breast cancer.

Although the diagnosis was devastating, the young actress found strength in her family and friends as well as her own personal faith. “I am fortunate to know God’s Son,” she wrote in her memoir. “He has given me a good life, a beautiful home filled with love and laughter, and he has surrounded me with true friends.”

Doherty’s faith in the Lord and her family’s love helped see her through such a difficult time. However, when she was 23 years old, Doherty suffered yet another blow: Her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer as well. “I thought about [my mom] and then I just started to cry,” she says. “I couldn’t be strong for myself, but I could be strong for her.”

During the course of her mom’s struggle, Doherty went through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy. But she refused to let this trial put a damper on her career; she had recently decided that acting was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. “I am not the type of person to sit idle,” said Doherty. “That would drive me crazy.” To counter her cancer, she took up kickboxing classes at a gym near her home. She also started writing about her battle with breast cancer for People magazine in order to help other women who may be going through similar experiences.

In 2008, Shannen Doherty was declared cancer-free. Her prognosis has remained positive since then–she even gave birth to a baby girl in 2009! While still going through chemo, the actress adopted a child from Ethiopia named Ava and became pregnant with her second daughter just months later. “I always knew I would adopt and I always knew I wanted to be a mother,” she said. “It was incredibly difficult, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Doherty has since given birth to two girls and renews her pledge to help those who suffer from cancer each day: “I am here and I will not let this disease define me,” she said. Cancer has not stopped Shannen Doherty from living a successful and happy life–just as it won’t stop her from maintaining the courage to fight another day.