Friends look out for each other — and that’s exactly what Selma Blair did when Christina Applegate began experiencing symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
In a recent interview with British Vogue, the actress and disability justice advocate said she encouraged Applegate, her longtime friend and colleague, to get tested for MS when she began experiencing a strange “tingling” sensation in her feet.
It took Blair, 50, nearly 40 years to get diagnosed with the potentially disabling neurological condition. She didn’t want Applegate — whom she met more than 20 years ago on the set of The Sweetest Thing — to suffer needlessly.
“I was sitting in Selma’s living room, our children playing, and I told Selma I’d been having this weird tingling in my feet. She said, ‘You must get tested for MS.’ [Even my doctor doubted it] but there it was,” Applegate, 51, who received her MS diagnosis in 2021, told the magazine. “In essence, because of her, I’m going to have a better quality of life.“
Blair also opened up about how her MS symptoms were routinely dismissed by doctors when she was younger (thanks, medical misogyny!). By age 7, she was unable to her left eye, her right leg, or control her bladder.
“If you’re a boy with those symptoms, you get an MRI,” she said. “If you’re a girl, you’re called ‘crazy.’“
What is MS? Selma Blair and Christina Applegate both have this disease.
Blair and Applegate aren’t alone: An estimated 1 million U.S. adults are living with MS.
According to Mayo Clinic, MS is a potentially disabling disease that impacts the brain and spinal cord. It occurs when a person’s immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the protective sheath, or myelin, surrounding their nerves. Over time, this can cause permanent nerve damage.
MS presents with a wide range of symptoms, from the tingling Applegate experienced, to the numbness and weakness that led Blair to use a mobility aid while walking the red carpet.
The disease is incurable, although some patients — like Blair — go into periods of remission where symptoms are minimal. In fact, Blair even competed on a recent season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. She danced for weeks before bowing out due to MS complications.
Here’s why the ‘Sweetest Thing’ co-stars are so candid about their MS journeys.
In her conversation with British Vogue, Blair said she speaks so candily about her health struggles because she understands the impact of her platform.
“I didn’t imagine I could ever make a difference by showing up as myself and being open about my experiences. But when others with mobility aids rallied around my presence on the red carpet with a cane and in the midst of an MS flare, I noticed,” the actress said. “I felt empowered to share. … Now it’s a conscious choice to.”
She and Applegate join a growing number of celebrities with MS who have bravely welcomed the public into their struggles, including WandaVision alum Emma Caulfield.
“Selma has had an incredible impact on the MS community but, more so, she’s had an impact on how the world views it,” Applegate added.
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