A year after her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Selma Blair took to the stage in New York City this week to speak about her stem cell transplant and chemotherapy treatment.
The outspoken “Cruel Intentions” actress spoke at the TIME 100 Health Summit on Thursday in a bright pink Christian Dior pantsuit. Blair, 47, carried a cane onstage and used a three-wheeled walking bike on the red carpet.
She explained her body had not initially responded to disease-modifying treatment and she felt “out of options” before undergoing chemotherapy.
“I was really declining more rapidly than I found acceptable,” she told a panel. “And I was like, ‘I’m not ruining my body — what’s left of it — why would I put this horrible drug in my body? Chemotherapy?
I don’t have cancer, I don’t need it,’ but I was kind of out of options.”
Blair said what convinced her to go through with it was a microdose of chemotherapy she got months ahead of the full treatment. She said she immediately felt relief from her symptoms.
“So I was like, ‘Maybe I just have too much junk in there. And that killed some junk,’” she said. “Like what do I care if it kills my whole body because my whole body is like, one big macrophage of yuck!”
The actress said undergoing chemotherapy treatment forced her to consider what would happen in the event of her death.
“So I did it and I was warned and … you kind-of make your plans for death. I told my son I was doing this and he would like me cremated,” she said with a laugh. “I’m here though! We don’t have to worry about that.”
Blair made headlines when she announced her MS diagnosis in October of last year. Four months later, she made her first public appearance following her diagnosis and walked the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party with a cane in a stunning ball gown.
“I saw people that were comforted that I wore a cane to a glamorous event, and I just, I didn’t even think about it,” she said. “I just didn’t want to fall!
And then I hear how much it means to them, and I’m like, ‘Oh, well, I’m glad I’m useful!’”
Blair has been outspoken about her condition on social media, regularly posting photos of herself with health updates for fans.
She said she never felt the need to hide what she was going through — especially since she was having "glitches" in her speech — and hoped to offer some comfort to those going through the same thing.
"I also didn't want people to think I was drunk, because I have a history of uh, that," she deadpanned. "I'm sober and so proud of it ... I'd rather have someone think she's going to be in a wheelchair than she's opened the minibar."
She said she didn’t mind losing her hair as part of the treatment.
“That was a small thing, I never minded hair loss or any of the things that would be ego involved,” she said. “My dream is to lie next to my son at night and be there as long as he needs me. And hopefully do something for people.”
More than 2.3 million people around the world are affected by MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The condition makes the body’s immune system attack the brain and the spinal cord.
Blair said the idea behind the chemotherapy treatments was to jump start her immune system.
“I haven’t talked about it much yet because I’ve been wanting to show everyone the proof is in the pudding but my pudding is still sort of scrambled,” she said. “ I don’t want to scare people away!”