Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross doesn't want there to be a stigma around anal cancer. And she's fighting it by talking about her own experience. Marcia Cross' comments about her anal cancer battle show that she's dedicated to normalizing the conversation surrounding the disease. Like those who've suffered from any other type of cancer, people with anal cancer deserve respect, and Cross' new interview with People raises plenty of important points.
The actor was diagnosed about a year and a half ago, People reported, and she now says that she's healthy. Still, the experience taught her about the stigma surrounding this particular type of cancer, and she's now on a mission to put that to an end. "I want to help put a dent in the stigma around anal cancer," Cross told the magazine. "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."
Back when Cross first announced her cancer battle to the public in September 2018, she shared a photo in what she referred to as a "beanie and a hair topper." She wrote that she was "getting on with the glory of living!" and thanked everyone for their support. Cross also shared a photo revealing her hair had fallen out during cancer treatment.
The Quantico actor explained to People that she underwent radiation and chemotherapy for six weeks, after first being diagnosed with anal cancer in November 2017. She didn't shy away from talking to the magazine about the affected body parts either.
"Surgery wasn’t recommended, which was a relief. You want to preserve sphincter muscles if possible," Cross told People. "Having woken up to its importance, I am now a big fan of the anus."
Now that she has resumed normal activities and is in better health, Cross said in the same interview that she's more thankful for her body's everyday functions. "Every time I go to the bathroom, I think, 'That's awesome! Thank you, body,'" she said to the magazine.
According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of having an anal cancer diagnosis is 1 in 500. It's less common than similar cancers, like rectal or colon cancer, the ACS points out. But there are still risk factors that people should be aware of. Women are more commonly affected than men are, the ACS's website explains. It's also more common among people who are in their 60s or older.
Some of the signs of anal cancer include rectal bleeding or itching, or pain in the surrounding area, according to the ACS. There are plenty of other, less serious causes of these symptoms, too — but if you're experiencing them, it may be worth a doctor's visit, to be safe.
"If something doesn't feel right, listen to your body and talk to your doctor," Cross told People. "Don't let it go. It's a very curable cancer if caught early, which mine was."
Cancer of any kind is no laughing matter, and Cross' words are a good reminder to think before you speak. And if you do feel like something's wrong, it's never a bad idea to get a doctor's opinion — it's always better to be safe than sorry.