From breast cancer to early menopause to insomnia, Christina Applegate has already faced quite a few health issues by age 46, and she’s using that experience to help other women.
The Bad Moms actress says she has a responsibility to speak out.
“If you do have a voice to do it, which we [as actors] are fortunate to have this platform to be like, ‘I am just like you, I can’t sleep, I feel like crap a lot of the time because of this, but I want you to feel okay with it and not feel shame about it and get information about it so that you can have a better quality of life,’ ” Applegate tells PEOPLE Now to support her “Why So Awake?” campaign. “And same goes for my battle with cancer.”
The mom to daughter Sadie, 7, admits that she was hesitant at first to speak out when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, and later deemed cancer-free after undergoing a double mastectomy.
“When I first came out about my breast cancer I didn’t want to talk about it, but I had to, because young women were getting it, and people weren’t understanding that,” she says. “They weren’t understanding that women that were 36 were getting breast cancer, or women that were 28 were getting breast cancer, and they were opting not to get MRIs when they were high-risk because of the cost. My activism came out.”
Applegate says she was horrified that women were declining potentially life-saving MRI scans because of the cost.
“It wasn’t even about me. It was like, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re telling me that women are not even opting for this because it’s too expensive? Oh no, no, no. It just saved my life.’ An MRI saved my life,” she says. “Had I waited for my mammogram, I would be dead right now. So for me, it was a very important thing for me to start that.”
Applegate spoke out again in October when she revealed that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as a precautionary measure, because she carries the BRCA1 gene mutation that causes a heightened risk of developing cancer. The actress says she went public with her surgery because of her 7-year-old daughter Sadie.
“That was why I talked about my ovaries, because that was also something very private but I just found myself like, yeah, I guess you should know that I took my ovaries and fallopian tubes out in September and I am going through menopause,” she says. “Let’s talk about that, let’s talk about what that’s like at 40-something, to be going through that, and know that you’re not alone.”
Now over six months later, Applegate says she’s “good” as she goes through surgery-induced menopause.