Christina Applegate was filming Dead to Me when she noticed something was wrong.

For Christina Applegate, filming the third and final season of Dead to Me was the hardest thing she's ever done. 

The 52-year-old actor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during production of the series in 2021 and later found herself unable to walk without a cane. 

Speaking to Kelly Clarkson and The Kelly Clarkson Show, she admitted, "Shooting the show was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life."

"I was diagnosed during shoot, and I didn’t know what was happening to me, I couldn’t walk, they had to use a wheelchair to get me to set… I was freaking out."

Watch: Christina Applegate's The Sweetest Thing co-star Selma Blair spoke about having MS in 2019. Post continues below video.

Video via ABC News.

On Tuesday, Applegate attended the 2023 Primetime Emmy Awards and presented the award for Best Supporting Actress. She received a standing ovation when she walked onto the stage.

She told the audience, "You are totally shaming me by standing up!"


In 2023, she attended what she said would be her "last awards show" as an actor.

"Right now, I couldn’t imagine getting up at 5am and spending 12 to 14 hours on a set," she told the Los Angeles Times

"I don’t have that in me at this moment."

Applegate who was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series in Dead to Me, walked the red carpet with her then-12-year-old daughter, Sadie, and a cane that read "FU MS". 


Image: Getty.

The actor previously shared that her diagnosis saw her gain almost 18kgs, ahead of her first appearance in public since living with MS, when she headed out to Los Angeles to celebrate her name being added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

"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," she said previously in an interview with The New York Times.


"I want people to know that I am very aware of all of that."

Christina Applegate attends a ceremony honouring herself with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 14, 2022. Image: Getty. 

She walked with the help of a cane and attended the event barefoot.


"Barefoot," she wrote on Twitter. "For some with MS the feeling of shoes may hurt or make us feel off balance. So today I was me. Barefoot."

She even alluded in her speech that she might be retiring from acting for good, noting that her career began alongside Katey Sagal and David Faustino from Married... With Children, and 'was ending' alongside Linda Cardellini and Liz Feldman, who work with her on Dead To Me, with all four in attendance as she accepted the star.

"I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. You are my people," she told the four of them.


After receiving her diagnosis, production of Dead To Me briefly paused so Applegate could receive treatment. 

"I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time," she told the publication. 

But despite taking time to process her diagnosis, the actor said she will never "accept" it. 

"It’s not like I came on the other side of it, like, 'Woohoo, I’m totally fine,'" she said. "I’m never going to accept this. I’m pissed."

When conversations started going around about whether filming should shutdown, the actor insisted the show continued. 

"I had an obligation to [creator] Liz [Feldman] and to Linda, to our story," she explained. 

"I said, 'No. We’re going to do it, but we’re going to do it on my terms.'"

Applegate first shared her diagnosis on Twitter in August 2021, writing: "Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS."

"It's been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It's been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some a**hole blocks it."


She continued: "As one of my friends that has MS said, 'We wake up and take the indicated action'. And that's what I do."

"So now I ask for privacy. As I go through this thing. Thank you."

Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS. It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.

— christina applegate (@1capplegate) August 10, 2021

As one of my friends that has MS said “ we wake up and take the indicated action”. And that’s what I do. So now I ask for privacy. As I go through this thing. Thank you xo

— christina applegate (@1capplegate) August 10, 2021

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system and consequently most functions of the mind and body. Symptoms and severity can vary from person-to-person, and may include vision loss, pain, fatigue and impaired coordination.

There is no known cure.

Since her diagnosis, the actor has been on a "strange journey" with MS and she has intermittently shared details of the illness with her followers.

On her 50th birthday in November 2021, she wrote, "Yup. I turned 50 today. And I have MS. It's been a hard one."

"Sending so much love to all of you this day," she continued, referencing the fact it was also Thanksgiving in the United States. "Many are hurting today, and I am thinking of you. May we find that strength to lift our heads up. Mine currently is on my pillow. But I try."


In late October, Applegate directed fans to watch Selma Blair's Introducing, Selma Blair, a documentary about her own journey with the disease.

"Being technically disabled is what it is. I didn’t know what MS was before I had it. My life is changed forever," Applegate wrote.

"But my girl Selma Blair documented the first year. Which is hard. Please watch her documentary. Introducing Selma Blair. An intimate look inside a person with MS."

In response to fans, she said she cries "so much and eat burritos".

"I'm not a strong woman. I'm a person with MS. I'm sad about it all the time. But I hope one day I will be a fighter," she wrote to another.


Applegate was previously diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and had a double mastectomy. She has been cancer-free ever since.

"I think about it every day," she told USA Today in 2019 of the surgery.

"Girls who go through this, we say to each other, 'Yep, it's been 10 years,' but you're never not aware that that's something you've been through. Everything looks different. You have to shower and you're like, 'Oh, there they are. That happened.'"


As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Applegate was vigilant about getting regular mammograms, as she explained in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2008.

When early-stage breast cancer was detected in her left breast, Applegate described holding back tears before immediately entering survival mode.

"I'm a Sagittarius," she said. "We need things done now. So, for me, I had to get in now, and I wanted to have my surgery now."

Sheryl Crow, Applegate and Melissa Etheridge at a Stand Up To Cancer event in 2008. Image: Getty. 


Within a week, Applegate had her first lumpectomy, and was told she needed six weeks radiotherapy instead of chemotherapy. She also tested positive for the breast cancer gene, which meant the chances of the cancer coming back were potentially higher.

"That sort of changed everything for me," she told Oprah. "Radiation was something temporary, and it wasn't addressing the issue of this coming back or the chance of it coming back in my left breast. I sort of had to kind of weigh all my options at that point."

She opted for a double mastectomy, explaining she just wanted "to be done with this".

Afterwards, she spoke of the emotional and physical toll, saying she "cried a least once a day".

"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," she explained to Oprah.

Applegate has a 10-year-old daughter named Sadie with her husband Martyn LeNoble, who she met just months after her surgery. 

Applegate with husband Martyn LeNoble. Image: Getty. 


In 2017, she said she was concerned about passing the BRCA gene onto Sadie.

"The chances that my daughter is BRCA positive are very high," she told Today.

"I look at her and feed her the cleanest foods. I try to keep her stress levels down. I'm doing everything I can on my end knowing that in 20 years, she'll have to start getting tested."

"Hopefully by then there will be advancements. It breaks my heart to think that's a possibility."


When Applegate took on the role of Jen in Dead To Me, she saw an opportunity to raise awareness and make women feel seen.

In episode four of season one, Jen, a resentful widow who unknowingly befriends her husband's killer Judy, shared that she had her breasts removed as a precaution after her mother died of breast cancer.

Image: Netflix. 


Applegate had the detail written into the show to shed light on what she sees as an under-represented trauma so many women go through.

"It hasn't really been discussed on shows before; I don't think there's a lot of characters out there with double mastectomies," the actor told USA Today.

"But I went through it, and it's a horribly painful process – emotionally, spiritually, physically – and I never really talked about it. I thought this was my chance to tell a little bit about me, but also all the women that have gone through that."

In 2017, Applegate shared that after surviving breast cancer, she also had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

"Two weeks ago, I had my ovaries and [fallopian] tubes removed," she told Today at the time. "My cousin passed away from ovarian cancer in 2008. I could prevent that."

After Applegate tweeted her MS health update in 2020, she was inundated with messages of support from fans and friends.

Among them was her The Sweetest Thing co-star Blair. 

"Loving you always," Blair replied to her friend's tweet. "Always here. As are our kids. Beating us up with love."


The National Multiple Sclerosis Society also thanked the actor for talking about her diagnosis.

"Thank you, Christina, for your courage in opening up about living with MS," the organisation tweeted read. "We all appreciate the awareness that you are bringing to the disease. Please know that we at the MS Society are here to help in whatever way that we can."

This article was originally published on August 11, 2021, and has since been updated. 

Feature Image: Netflix. 

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