In addition to the characters that crack us up on screen, Christina Applegate has a few other crucial rolesÃ¢â‚¬”like mother, wife, advocate, survivor. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, she created Right Action for Women, a foundation that educates women about their breast cancer risk and provides aid to high-risk women who canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cover the cost of screenings.
This year, sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been filming Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and still managing to focus on her health. One of her secrets: loading up on leafy greens and avoiding sugars, which is why she recently teamed up with Fruitwater to promote their new zero-calorie, zero-sugar sparkling water.
Check out our interview with Christina below, edited for space:
What was one of the biggest lessons you learned throughout your own fight with breast cancer?
One of the biggest ones is: Stress is a killer. How do we find ways in our lives to take some time for ourselves, to breathe, to not take things so personally, to not take so much on our shoulders?
I just really let things roll off as much as possible. And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not to say that I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have my days of anxiety, which I think being post-cancer, a lot of us suffer a little bit from anxiety disorders and stuff, because of fear of getting sick again. Those things do come up. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a human being. I went through a really difficult time. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something that happened to us. But just trying to take it all in stride and telling yourself that you are whole, you are complete, and you are healthy.
Tell us about your charity Right Action for Women. Are you doing anything special for Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
We reteamed again with ASICS who has been generous enough to design these new shoes, jog bras, socks and all these things to purchase for Right Action for Women during the month of October. So itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a limited edition of these really fun, bright-colored products from them. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s helping us with our funding. When we first started Right Action for Women in 2008, I got handed some big checks from some pretty amazing people that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m friends with, which really helped the foundation of what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing. But as people know, MRIs are insanely expensive. So in order for us to expand our website and the things we want to do beyond just paying for MRIs for high-risk women, we need to just continue to raise funds, and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to find different ways of doing that.
So right now women can go in stores and online to purchase the products?
Yes, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t miss them. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re bright pink. And just know that when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re wearing them, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re helping a lot of women.
[Check out an awesome ASICS sports bra in our Breast Cancer Awareness Gift Guide here]
Right Action for Women really emphasizes early detection. Why is that something you want women to focus on?
Especially if you have children, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s number one priority. You need to be around for your kids, and the only way that high-risk womenÃ¢â‚¬”or any of us reallyÃ¢â‚¬”can be around is to always go check in. Make sure that everythingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s working right. Do what you can at home, take really good care of yourself. When my doctor said you need to follow up in three months, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll tell you right now I did a follow up in three months. And if I hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t done that follow up, I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have found the cancer at that time. Because three months before that there was no cancer in my body. I had done an MRI, and there was nothing. Three months later, I had cancer.
So listen to the people that are taking care of you. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re there for a reason. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not to say you have to be at the doctorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s every two months, but [maybe] for people that are high risk who know they are high risk. If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re high risk, go on RightActionForWomen.org, take our survey, and see if you come up as a high-risk person. It takes five minutes to see. This was compiled my doctors. Some of it will seem a little general, but its just good to know for risk level. And knowing my risk level was pretty high, I always just made sure that I was ok. And because of that, we caught it at such a stage thatÃ¢â‚¬”I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to jinx myselfÃ¢â‚¬”but I have a one percent chance of my breast cancer returning. I was able to catch it at a time before it went into my lymph nodes, before it spread into the tissue. And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all because an MRI saw it.
How have your health and fitness habits changed since you became a mom?
I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t carving out that time for myself. If she did nap, great, I was in that gym. But on the days when she didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t nap then it was like, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a minute to get my body moving. And I could really tell how it changes my mental capacity and how I feel physically, emotionally and spiritually. Now that sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in school itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great, because I can drop her off, go run back here really fast to do a good hour and a half with my trainer and get back to her as fast as possible.
And for someone who drinks as much water as I do, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m constantly feeling like IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m getting really sick of water. So sometimes you want something sweet and we know sweets arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t so great for us so its nice to grab something like fruitwater that you know is a nice alternative and its sparkling and refreshing.
Photo: Andrew Macpherson