Speaking on ABC News' "Good Morning America" in her first interview since announcing her diagnosis earlier this month, the "Samantha Who?" star said she had a double mastectomy three weeks ago. She'll undergo reconstructive surgery over the next eight months.
"I'm going to have cute boobs 'til I'm 90, so there's that," she joked in the interview, which aired Tuesday. "I'll have the best boobs in the nursing home. I'll be the envy of all the ladies around the bridge table."
The 36-year-old actress elected to remove both breasts even though the disease was contained in one breast. She said she is now cancer-free.
Applegate called the operation a logical decision. Her mother battled breast cancer, and she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation linked to breast and ovarian cancer.
"I just wanted to kind of be rid of it," she said. "So this was the choice I made and it was a tough one."
The experience has been an emotional roller coaster, she said.
"Sometimes, you know, I cry and sometimes I scream and I get really angry and I get really like, you know, into wallowing in self-pity sometimes," she said. "And I think that's - it's all part of healing, and anyone who's going through it out there, it's OK to cry. It's OK to fall on the ground and just scream if you want to."
The Emmy-nominated "Samantha Who?" star has kept her sense of humor intact.
"I've laughed so much in the last three weeks," she said. "I love living, and I really love my life, and I knew that from this moment on it was only going to be good that was going to be coming.
Yeah, I'll face challenges, but you can't get any darker than where I've been. So knowing that in my soul gave me the strength to just say, `I have to get out there and make this a positive."' Applegate's cancer was detected early through a doctor-ordered MRI. She said she's starting a program to help women at high risk for breast cancer to meet the costs of an MRI, which is not always covered by insurance.
Applegate is scheduled to appear on a one-hour TV special, "Stand Up to Cancer," to be aired on ABC, CBS and NBC on Sept. 5 to raise funds for cancer research.
She has been nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the ABC show "Samantha Who?", in which she plays a woman who wakes from a coma with no memory of who she is.