updated 08/19/2008 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 08/19/2008 AT 8:20 AM ET
Christina Applegate, who was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer this month, revealed on ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday that she has undergone a double mastectomy – even though cancer was only detected in one of her breasts.
Privately, she admits, “Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I scream, and I get really angry and I get really into wallowing in self-pity sometimes, and I think it s all part of healing.”
Having watched her mother, Nancy Priddy, battle breast cancer – and then suffer from a recurrence many years later – the Emmy-nominated star of Samantha Who?, 36, told interviewer Robin Roberts that she wasn’t taking any chances, especially since she has the breast cancer gene, BRCA1.
“My decision, after looking at all the treatment plans that were possibilities for me, the only one that seemed the most logical and the one that was going to work for me was to have a bilateral mastectomy,” said Applegate. “So basically I had a prophylactic double mastectomies.”
Explaining her rationale in taking that dramatic step, she said, “I didn’t want to go back to the doctors every four months for testing and squishing and everything. I just wanted to kind of be rid of this whole thing for me. This was the choice that I made, and it was a tough one.”
The surgery took place three weeks ago. She did not undergo radiation or chemotherapy.
Applegate, whose initial reaction when she received her diagnosis, was. “Oh my god. I was so pissed off, so mad I was just shaking.” But then, she said, “Immediately I had to go into take-care-of-business mode.”
Plans for Reconstructive Surgery
Over the next eight months she will undergo reconstructive surgery. I’m gonna have cute boobs till I’m 90,” she quipped, as Roberts pointed out how Applegate’s sense of humor has helped the actress endure the ordeal.
Applegate also cited her 67-year-old mother, whom she described as “a quiet warrior.”
“I watched her have a mastectomy, and then I watched her go through two years of chemotherapy and eight surgeries and a hysterectomy,” said Applegate. “I’ve watched this woman survive both of those things, so for me there was always that sense that I was going to be okay, no matter what.”
Early Detection Was Key
Applegate, who began getting mammograms at the age of 30 because of her family’s medical history, said the cancer was detected through an MRI ordered by her doctor as a follow-up to a biopsy she had last year.
Besides me being really vigilant about it [mammograms and self-examinations], it is the No.-1 reason I am going to live.”
Having become familiar to TV audiences in her role as sassy teen Kelly Bundy on Married … With Children, Applegate said she plans to return to the set of ABC’s Samantha Who? when filming resumes in September.
She is also set to appear in the all-star TV special Stand Up to Cancer, airing Sept. 5 on ABC, CBS and NBC and raising funds for cancer research. Applegate also noted she plans to raise money for MRIs and gene testing.