Christina Applegate opens up about MS diagnosis: ‘I’m never going to accept this’


Christina Applegate and host Anthony Anderson speak onstage during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Christina Applegate and host Anthony Anderson speak onstage during the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards at Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
The actress was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the summer of 2021, after experiencing tingling and numbness in her body for years.

Christina Applegate admits that she has struggled to accept the diagnosis of MS, an autoimmune condition which impacts the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord.

Applegate received a standing ovation at the Emmy Awards this week. 

As the first presenter of the night, the Married with Children actress used a cane as she came out to present the award. 

“You’re totally shaming me with disability by standing up,” she joked. “It’s fine. Body not by Ozempic.”

Applegate presented the award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series.

“It’s been an honour to play funny, flawed, complex characters like the women nominated for supporting actress in a comedy series,” she said. 

Challenges of living with MS

Like her friend and fellow Hollywood star, Selma Blair, Applegate has been characteristically frank in interviews about her experience of MS – and often highlights the added difficulties faced by those living with the condition. As she told Vanity Fair in 2023:

With the disease of MS, it’s never a good day. You just have little s***** days. People are like, “Well, why don’t you take more showers?” Well, because getting in the shower is frightening. You can fall, you can slip, your legs can buckle … It’s frightening to me to get in there. 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.

MS is a lifelong condition and there’s currently no cure, but medications and lifestyle interventions can help manage the disease and offer hope to those living with it.

What is MS?

MS is a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord.

In a person with MS, the immune system, which usually fights off infections, mistakenly attacks the protective sheath covering nerve fibres, which leads to a breakdown in communication between the brain and the rest of the body.

Over time, this relentless assault can result in permanent damage, causing an array of potential symptoms including fatigue, vision problems, balance and coordination difficulties, muscle weakness, increased muscle tone and stiffness, pain and sensory impairment, cognitive changes, emotional and mood changes, and bladder and bowel problems.

But MS is different for everyone and no two people will experience the same symptoms or progression of the condition.

Generally, however, there are two types of MS, relapsing or progressive, and each affect the body differently.

MS is not without hope

In an interview with the New York Times, ahead of the release of the final season of her TV series Dead To Me, Applegate spoke about having to pause production so she could receive treatment.

“There was the sense of, ‘Well, let’s get her some medicine so she can get better.’ 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.”

The actress admits that after treatment, she still felt angry about her health issues. “Acceptance? No. I’m never going to accept this. I’m pissed.”

Despite her health, she was determined to return to work to finish the show. “I had an obligation… to our story. 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 went on to talk about how the illness had affected her body, and that fans may notice a change in her appearance. “This is the first time anyone’s going to see me the way I am. I put on 40 pounds; I can’t walk without a cane. I want people to know that I am very aware of all of that.”

“If people hate it, if people love it, if all they can concentrate on is, ‘Ooh, look at the cripple,’ that’s not up to me.

“I’m sure that people are going to be, like, ‘I can’t get past it.’ Fine, don’t get past it, then. But hopefully people can get past it and just enjoy the ride and say goodbye to these two girls.”



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