Actress Marcia Cross, 57 is opening up on battling anal cancer and why the stigmatisation around it needs to stop.
The “Desperate Housewives” star told PEOPLE exclusively that she was diagnosed in November 2017 during her annual checkup with her gynaecologist.
After her rectal digital exam, her doctor immediately sent her to a colon and rectal surgeon. After 2 biopsies, she was told she had anal cancer and she began 6 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy.
She said: “Surgery wasn’t recommended, which was a relief. You want to preserve sphincter muscles if possible. Having woken up to its importance, I am now a big fan of the anus!”
She described the experience as “gnarly” but says she feels better now, and is nearly on year in remission.
“Every time I go to the bathroom, I think, ‘That’s awesome! Thank you, body,’ ” she says.
Now, she wants “to help put a dent in the stigma around anal cancer.”
“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,” she adds.
She said that having being told of how “difficult” treatment would be, she decided to find humour in it.
“In the beginning, I just sort of lay down for the parting of the cheeks and I would float away,. Because what are you going to do?”
She shares advice for everyone, saying people should be aware of the symptoms of anal cancer — which can include anal bleeding, pain, itching and lumps.
She says: “If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your body and talk to your doctor. 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. And one I turned to often.”
Photo Credit: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic