Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate can’t walk without a cane and gained 40 pounds after MS diagnosis: ‘I want people to know that I am very aware of all of that’

You may know Christina Applegate from her role on Married With Children, playing Rachel’s little sister on Friends, her role in Anchorman, or perhaps her latest work, the Netflix dark comedy Dead To Me. Earlier this month, the Emmy Award-winning actress announced something that no one expected: She has Multiple Sclerosis. Filming the final season of Dead To Me, she says, was the hardest thing she has ever done – and she doesn’t care if you don’t like it. (1)

Christina Applegate Finished Filming Dead To Me Despite MS Diagnosis

Christina Applegate has been making us laugh for many, many years. From her break-out role as a teenager on Married With Children to her most recent role starring in the Netflix series Dead To Me at nearly 50 years old. Unfortunately, her health hasn’t always been a breeze. She suffered from breast cancer in 2008 at just 36 years old, which led to her eventually having a double mastectomy and the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes. Now, at 50, she has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. (2)

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What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, aka the central nervous system. The patient’s own immune system attacks the protective covering (called the myelin sheath) that covers nerve fibers. This causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body and can cause deterioration of and permanent damage to the nerves. (3)

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There are different types of MS and the signs and symptoms can vary. Some people completely lose the ability to walk independently or at all, while others may have long remission periods with next to no symptoms. All of this depends on how many and which nerve cells are affected. There are currently no cures, but there are treatments that help to speed up recovery after attacks, change the course of the disease, and manage symptoms.

Read: Study: Common Stomach Virus Linked to Crohn’s Disease

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Filming With MS

Christina says that looking back on it, she first noticed symptoms of MS a few years ago when they first began filming Dead to Me. She said she recalls feeling off-balance when filming a dance sequence for the show. An avid tennis player, she says she also remembers her game was struggling. She didn’t think much of this, however, only assuming she needed to work harder and improve. Over time, more symptoms began to show themselves. She began experiencing numbness and tingling in her extremities, which is a tell-tale sign of various kinds of neurological conditions. Finally, she received her diagnosis in the summer of 2021, just when she had begun filming the final season of Dead to Me. (4)

The show paused production for the next five months while Christina received treatment. They suggested to her that they could just use previously shot footage to wrap the season up. Christina, however, wouldn’t have it. She was determined to finish shooting.

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

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Filming, she says, was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. She often would arrive on set in a wheelchair. They couldn’t film scenes where she was walking because she couldn’t walk unassisted. In many scenes, though you can’t see it on-screen, there was someone holding her legs so that she could stand. The writers even made changes to the script sometimes to accommodate her levels of energy and stamina throughout the day. On top of that, she physically is not the same. Going on-screen in her “new normal” has not been easy, either.

“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,” she said. She also spoke about how acceptance is not something that she is holding her breath for – she is angry. “Acceptance? No. I’m never going to accept this. I’m pissed,”

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Support Around Her

Thankfully, she had the support of her co-star and close friend Linda Cardellini. Christina says Linda was her champion on set. She spoke up for Christina and advocated for what she needed when Christina couldn’t herself. Christina describes Linda as her “protective mamma bear” while on set. Now, she is preparing to do her first public appearance since her diagnosis, where she will need to use a cane to walk. 

Keep Reading: Is a Virus We All Have Causing Multiple Sclerosis?

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Sources

  1. Christina Applegate on the subtle signs that led to MS diagnosis: ‘I wish I had paid attention’.” NBC News. Gina Vivinetto. November 2, 2022.
  2. 20 Celebrities With Breast Cancer.” Everyday Health. Kristen Stewart.
  3. Multiple sclerosis.” Mayo Clinic
  4. Christina Applegate: “I wish I had paid attention” amid worsening symptoms of multiple sclerosis.” CBS News. C. Mandler. November 2, 2022.
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