'Desperate Housewives' star Marcia Cross has opened up about her experience with anal cancer in the hope to de-stigmatize the disease and raise awareness on ways it can be avoided or prevented. Now it has been revealed that the virus which caused her anal cancer had also caused her husband's throat cancer ten years ago.
In 2017, Cross was visiting her doctor for an annual rectal exam when a cancerous mass was found in her anus, eight years after her husband Tom Mahoney was treated for throat cancer.
The doctors revealed that the cancer was most likely caused by the same type of human papillomavirus or HPV which is a sexually transmitted disease.
Cross who is currently in remission told CBS This Morning that she has decided to openly speak about her cancer as she knows that "there are people who are ashamed." Cross shared, "You have cancer! Do you have to then also feel ashamed like you did something bad, you know because it took up residence in your anus? I mean come on, really, there’s enough on your plate."
The actress added that saying the word 'anus' as freely as she does now, did not come easy. "Even for me, it took a while. Anus, anus, anus! Ha. You just have to get used to it," she shared. The 57-year-old added that she had relied on her friends and family who she called her "anal angels" while going through radiation and chemotherapy.
"What I had was a bevy of girlfriends. I called them my ‘anal angels'. You know, I kept saying, ‘If this doesn’t kill me, it’s like the best thing that could have ever happened.’ Because the experience of being loved like that — it blew my mind." Cross recalled, "You know, I kept saying: ‘If this doesn’t kill me, it’s like the best thing that could have ever happened’. Because the experience of being loved like that, it blew my mind."
She added how well she is doing now given that it has been a year and a half after her diagnosis. "I’m feeling back to normal though it’s a new normal," she shared. "I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted. I’m the girl who goes to the bathroom now and I go ‘Yes! It’s great what my body can do! I’m so grateful."
Beside warning people to not be embarrassed about talking about rectal exams and treatment, Cross wants people to know that anal cancer is preventable. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that around 90% of anal cancer is caused by HPV which can also cause cancers including genital, cervical and throat cancers. The types of HPV that commonly cause cancer prevented with a vaccine.