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The actress wants to end the stigma around the disease. Marcia Cross has shared an update following her treatments for anal cancer—setting an example of the type of frank conversations we should all be having about our health, even the aspects that we might find a little embarrassing. The Desperate Housewives star was diagnosed with anal cancer in November after a routine gynecological checkup, followed by two biopsies and a colonoscopy. She later had 28 radiation treatments and two weeks of chemotherapy.
But before she started her treatment, she made sure she was armed with the knowledge she needed to prepare herself for what was to come. Cross, who has year-old twin daughters Eden and Savannah, said she "read a lot online" and also turned to the Anal Cancer Foundation website. So, I was kind of ready for what was to come," she revealed.
Some of the "gnarly" side effects Cross experienced were pain, gastric problems, mouth sores, and skin issues. She said she thought she was doing great after her first chemotherapy treatment, but "out of nowhere," she felt an "excruciating" sting in her lip. Cross's cancer was likely related to HPV human papillomaviruswhich she hadn't ly been diagnosed with. She had the same viral strain of HPV that likely caused her husband Tom Mahoney's throat cancer, for which he received treatment in Kids can start getting the HPV vaccine at age 9.
It can also cause cancer of the cervix, genitals, and throat, and can spread between people via sex or simply skin-to-skin contact.
While Cross has been in remission for more than two years, her recovery hasn't been without its challenges. Destigmatizing anal cancer wasn't part of Cross's plan—"I wasn't interested in becoming the anal cancer spokesperson. I wanted to move on with my career and my life," she said. Yet she read about people who were keeping their diagnosis secret out of shame and embarrassment. She also learned that "doctors were not comfortable talking about it," and women weren't receiving the follow up care they required.
And you have to do things afterward to take care of yourself. I just saw how, oh my gosh, we are so behind on all of this because it's our anuses! Today, she has no shame about having anal cancer.
It's just silly… We all have one. It's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. In fact, Cross sees her anal cancer as a gift, "because it does change you. The actress, whose most recent TV role was in ABC's Quanticostressed how important it is to go for those regular gynecological check-ups—and then take your doc's advice.
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