Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease which occurs when the immune system begins to attack the sheath that protects nerve fibres, making it difficult for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. As a result, those suffering with MS often have difficulty walking and moving, and in some instances the disease can lead to paralysis in the legs. Currently, the exact cause of MS is unknown and cases can range from mild to severe. Despite this, the disease predominantly affects women, and while it’s rarely fatal it can lower one’s life expectancy by five to 10 years on average, according to Medical News Today.
Applegate asked for privacy “as I go through this thing.” She added, “As one of my friends that has MS said, ‘we wake up and take the indicated action.’ And that’s what I do.”
The diagnosis comes more than a decade after Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer for which she underwent a bilateral mastectomy. In an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2008, the actor explained, “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.”
Her battle with breast cancer turned into her hit Neflix show, Dead to Me. As she told USA Today, “It’s such a personal choice. I don’t know what anyone’s going to take away from that moment or scene, except for ‘Wow, I felt that way, too, and I’m going to be OK.’ Because you will. It’s OK to admit that you feel that way.”
For many who suffer from MS, lack of public understanding can make the disease a difficult one to bear. But increasingly, celebrities diagnosed with MS have been open and transparent about their health, including the likes of Selma Blair, Jamie Lynn Sigler and Jack Osbourne. In doing so, they are inviting people to start a conversation around MS and encouraging many to learn more in the hope that sufferers will feel less alone and, more importantly, that their health struggles will be seen.