Marcia Cross is finally starting to get used to her new normal after she was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2017. The actress candidly described her intense treatments in a new interview in hopes of ‘ending the stigma’ around anal cancer.
Marcia Cross, 57, went for her routine checkup with her gynecologist in November 2017, and her life hasn’t been the same since. The Desperate Housewives alum learned that she had anal cancer during that annual appointment. Now, she’s hoping to “help put a dent in the stigma around anal cancer,” she tells People in a candid, new interview, published on March 27. “I’ve read a lot of cancer-survivor stories, and many people, women especially, were too embarrassed to say what kind of cancer they had. There is a lot of shame about it. I want that to stop,” Cross explained.
While the actress is finally starting to feel like herself again — a different version of herself, “a new me” — she experienced months of “gnarly” treatment, following her diagnosis. Cross’ gynecologist administered a digital rectal exam and immediately sent her to a colon and rectal surgeon on the day she learned she had anal cancer. Following two biopsies, Cross’ doctors were able to confirm that she had the cancer, and started her on six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy.
“Surgery wasn’t recommended, which was a relief,” she told the magazine. “You want to preserve sphincter muscles if possible. Having woken up to its importance, I am now a big fan of the anus!” Upon doing research, the actress read that treatment would be “difficult.” But, instead of fearing the unknown, Cross decided to find the silver lining in it all — humor. “In the beginning, I just sort of lay down for the parting of the cheeks and I would float away,” she said, laughing. “Because what are you going to do?”
After she decided to be more open about her diagnosis and her recovery journey, Cross grew to consider herself an “introverted extrovert.” Now, she is nearly a year in remission, and, according to her doctors, she has a low chance of the cancer reoccurring. “Every time I go to the bathroom, I think, ‘That’s awesome! Thank you, body,’ ” she gushed.
Having gone through treatment, Cross wants others to be informed of the symptoms of anal cancer, which can include anal bleeding, pain, itching and lumps. “If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your body and talk to your doctor,” Cross urged. “Don’t let it go. It’s a very curable cancer if caught early, which mine was.”
“If you or a loved one are diagnosed, the Anal Cancer Foundation is an amazing resource,” she added. “And one I turned to often.”