What Christina Applegate has said about living with multiple sclerosis

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Christina Applegate’s candor, humor and grit brought the audience to their feet in a standing ovation at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards. They are qualities the “Dead to Me” star has shown many times before.

Applegate, who has multiple sclerosis, was visible moved by the warm response when she appeared on stage to present the first award of the night. She found light in the moment, too.

“Thank you so much, oh my God,” Applegate said as the audience honored her. “You’re totally shaming me with [my] disability by standing up. It’s fine, OK.”

Applegate first shared she was diagnosed with MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, in August of 2021.

“It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition,” Applegate wrote in a social media post. “It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.”

She spoke with the New York Times a few months later, as the third and final season of “Dead to Me” was about to debut on Netflix. Applegate reflected on how initially handled news of her diagnosis.

“There was the sense of, ‘Well, let’s get her some medicine so she can get better,’” Applegate told the publication. “And there is no better. But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time.”

Applegate said she was committed to finishing her work on “Dead to Me,” for which she received an Emmy nomination.

“The powers that be were like, ‘Let’s just stop. We don’t need to finish it. Let’s put a few episodes together.’ I said, ‘No. We’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it on my terms,’” she said.

Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate in "Dead to Me." - Saeed Adyani / Netflix/DTM_106_Unit_00530.dng/Saeed Adyani / Netflix
Linda Cardellini and Christina Applegate in "Dead to Me." - Saeed Adyani / Netflix/DTM_106_Unit_00530.dng/Saeed Adyani / Netflix

When she was recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2022, Applegate, who made her screen debut as a baby on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” reflected on the joy she’s found throughout her career.

“I’ve had a really interesting life,” Applegate said. “The life started as being a little girl, waiting in line to see the first ‘Star Wars’ on this very street, at that very theater, looking at these [stars on the street] going, ‘Who are these people? What did they do? Did they do something right? Did they do something wrong? Whatever it is, I want one. I f-ing want one!’ And I was five years old. So this day means more to me than you can possibly imagine.”

She thanked her colleagues who were there for supporting her through her health challenges and teared up when she addressed her daughter in the audience.

“Thank you for standing beside me through all of this,” Applegate said to her daughter, before quipping to the crowd, “Oh, by the way, I have a disease. Did you not notice? I’m not even wearing shoes…You’re supposed to laugh at that!”

Applegate has overcome previous health issues. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, when she was 36 and starring on “Samantha Who?”.

She underwent a double mastectomy and became a vocal advocate for screening and early detection, particularly among young women. She later had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed in 2017 to reduce the risk of recurrence.

“I cry at least once a day about it because it’s hard to overlook it when you’re standing there in the mirror. When you look down, it’s the first thing you see… So you’re reminded constantly of this thing – this cancer thing that you had,” Applegate told Oprah Winfrey in 2008. “This is my opportunity now to go out and fight as hard as I can for early detection.”

In the same interview, Applegate shared the perspective she gained through challenge.

“[There’s] this need and this desire to make every single day count,” she said. “I used to say… ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff – not even the big stuff.’ At the end of the day, none of it matters but your own joy, your own spiritual journey that you go on, God, your loved ones, your friends, your animals. These are the things you’ve got to cherish and love and embrace.”

Anthony Anderson escorted Christina Applegate to the podium at the Emmys. - Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images
Anthony Anderson escorted Christina Applegate to the podium at the Emmys. - Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Applegate has remained honest about her current challenges.

“With the disease of MS, it’s never a good day,” she told Vanity Fair in May. “There are just certain things that people take for granted in their lives that I took for granted. Going down the stairs, carrying things — you can’t do that anymore. It f—— sucks. I can still drive my car short distances. I can bring up food to my kid. Up, never down.”

It was likely that frankness, resilience – in addition to her beloved work as an actor – that brought people to their feet at the Emmys this week.

A post from designer Christian Siriano, who styled Applegate in a red velvet gown for the event, drew thousands of responses.

“Oh Christina I just love you! It was an honor to create for you last night!” Siriano wrote. “Filming a show with MS is unreal and you are an inspiration to so many.”

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