Christina Applegate Enters Motherhood Cancer-free, but Can She Breast Feed?

Health & Wellness on 03.01.11
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Image Credit: Munawar Hosain/Fotos International/Getty Images

Imagine being 36 years old, at the height of your career and just coming off a painful divorce when you get the devastating news that you have breast cancer. How is that possible at such a young age? It happens more than you might think (7 percent of all cases, according to WebMD.com). And it happened to Christina Applegate. But believe it or not, Christina is one of the lucky ones. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Christina began getting mammograms at 30. When she was 35, her doctor encouraged her to get MRIs instead. Her breast tissue was so thick, the doctors could no longer get a solid read on her scans and wanted a clearer picture. Thank goodness she took their advice.

Because the cancer was caught so early, she had more than a fighting chance to kick its booty to the curb. And she wanted to fight hard. Only found in one breast, Christina wasn't taking any chances. She made the difficult decision to be rid of it for good by undergoing a double mastectomy, basically removing both breasts. She was spared the onslaught of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and she did have reconstructive surgery on both breasts. Now, three years later, she is still healthy and cancer free. She is also a new mother to Sadie Grace LeNoble, born Jan. 23, 2011.

So, what effect has the cancer and the ensuing surgeries had on her role as a mother? Well, as with most things, there has been good and bad. Christina can't breastfeed Sadie, but her daughter helped her to shed some insecurities. Relating the story of Sadie's birth to People Magazine, she said she was self conscious about her scars from the mastectomy and reconstruction. She didn't want people to ever see her chest and kept it covered at all times. But when Sadie entered the world, those insecurities gave way to a mother's instinct, and she immediately opened her gown and laid Sadie on her bare chest.

Christina goes on to explain that she's a carrier for the BRCA1 gene, a genetic defect that leaves her more vulnerable to developing certain types of cancer. Though she is the toughest type of survivor, her fight is far from over. While the chance of her breast cancer returning is low, she's at a higher risk for ovarian cancer, too. Since she and her fiancé, Martyn LeNoble, want to have more children down the road, she has to consider what preventative measures, if any, she'll take. But medicine is an amazing thing, and even if she has to remove her ovaries, she can still carry a child. There's a chance that she'll pass the mutation on to her daughter, and she does worry about it. But for now, she's choosing to focus on taking care of her daughter and keeping herself healthy.

Of course, it's almost impossible to know what you would do in a life or death situation such as this one, but I'd like to think that I would have the same determined spirit as Christina and do everything in my power to stick around for my daughter and show her a mother who was scared, but had the courage to fight back and win. Just like Sadie will see in Christina.

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