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Christina Applegate Seeks Early Detection for Breast Cancer

Inspired by her own battle with cancer, the actress fights to help young women at high risk for the disease.

Applegate's Mastectomy continued...

She's also done her best to wipe stress from her life. "The second I was diagnosed, this house became a stress-free zone. There's no bull**** in my house -- I don't allow it here," she says. "I changed my bedroom over and cleaned out a lot of unnecessary things to make the environment clean, calm, and clutter-free so I could wake up in a sanctuary. It's been good for my mind and my spirit."

Perhaps not surprisingly for the star of Fox's long-running Married ... With Children and films like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, as well as in the new Farrelly brothers comedy, Hall Pass, with Owen Wilson, opening in February 2011, Applegate's best weapon in battling cancer has been humor.

"I laughed more during my surgery and during the time afterward than I ever had in my life," Applegate says. "There are so many funny things in a hospital, really, you just have to laugh. You know, I had a catheter when I was in the hospital after my mastectomy, and I always thought it was funny that the people who came to visit me were sitting right next to my bathroom. I'd look at them and say, ‘I'm going. Right now. How's that make you feel?'"

But comedian though Applegate is, the journey hasn't all been laughter. "Having a mastectomy is an amputation," she says. "A lot of doctors will tell you that you'll look so much better -- your breasts will be higher up or prettier or perkier, and maybe that's true. But they're not going to be the same as what you had. Your body and your emotions and your soul and your spirit are all going through an amputation. I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was for that aspect."

Breast Cancer: The Importance of Social Support

That's one reason Applegate urges all young women facing a breast cancer diagnosis to try to connect with other young women in the same boat. "You need people you can talk to, even if it's not in person, even if just on the phone, who've been there, too." When she was diagnosed, Applegate's doctors put her in touch with just such a group. Today, she calls them her "comrades in boobs."

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