Christina Applegate speaks of her breast cancer experience

Oprah recently interviewed Christina Applegate and I was struck by her telling Oprah that before she went in for her surgery, she staged her first—and last—nude photo shoot. “I made sure that I have close-up photographs of them from every angle so I can kind of remember them,” she said.  She had made the brave decision to go for a bilateral mastectomy when  a test for the BRCA gene—also known as the “breast cancer gene”—came back positive.

Within a week, Christina had her first lumpectomy. Initially after her biopsy results, she had been  told she’d need six weeks of radiation instead of chemotherapy, as her cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes. Christina was given two options…go forward with the radiation treatments and continue testing for the rest of her life or have both breasts removed. 

Speaking of the loss of her breasts, she said “… you go through a grieving process and a mourning process.”  I think she did the right thing to do the photo shoot. Currently, Christina says she has saline expanders in her body, which will make way for the new implants. Though she’s proud of her proactive decision, she says she’s reminded of her loss every day.  “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”. 

She finished the interview by saying that she now looks at her health scare as a blessing. “I am a 36-year-old person with breast cancer, and not many people know that happens to women my age or women in their 20s,” she says. “This is my opportunity now to go out and fight as hard as I can for early detection.”  Christina’s  desire to make sense of her experience by becoming an advocate really resonates with me.