Actress Marcia Cross Has a New Role: Cancer Advocate
The Desperate Housewives star is helping lead the fight against cancer in marches, through her advocacy, and with her own family.
Personal Habits and Cancer
Access to information on different approaches -- both traditional and
alternative -- is what's key, says Cross. Right after her husband received his
diagnosis, she hit the Internet and can't imagine not having it as a resource
during their time of crisis. "I read so many case histories," she says. "The
amount of information I needed to absorb … I was spouting off other people's
experiences to Tom. … It was invaluable. We went into appointments with our
doctors already familiar with what they were suggesting. And it offered us a
sense of control, too, because we could make informed decisions."
The real question to ask, Cross thinks, is: Why is there so much cancer out
there in the first place? That's why she is devoting herself to publicly
discussing what was, not so long ago, only whispered about -- as if even saying
the C-word out loud served as an invitation for rogue cells to wreak havoc.
Her personal connections to the disease also led her to re-examine how she
lives. Cross says she has traded regular cleaners for "vinegar and water … I'm
now aware of everything used in my house, everything that gets touched,
absorbed into our skin, or ingested." She buys only organic fare and wouldn't
dream of eating "junk food or anything processed."
These measures are not possible for everyone, though, and she acknowledges
that she's not perfect. "I use organic makeup and do the chemical-free dry
cleaning, but I haven't given up my hair dye yet. God knows what it's doing to
my scalp. But I'm working on that!"
When a Loved One Gets Cancer
Cross speaks of an "end of innocence" that occurs when we first realize that
illness can steal away our loved ones. "I lost my virginity, so to speak, a
long time ago," she says, referring to Jordan's shocking diagnosis and death
more than 15 years ago.
She's still processing all that's happened since. "When you face this kind
of surprise trauma -- followed by loss -- for the first time, it's a double
whammy. … So when this happened with Tom, I already knew that every day is a
gift, a blessing. I already understood that every day you don't get that
terrible phone call with bad test results is a very lucky day. Before Tom's
diagnosis, I used to say to him every night, 'We are so lucky. We have each
other. We have our babies.'" Cross and Mahoney are parents to 2-year-old twins
Eden and Savannah, triumphantly conceived through in-vitro fertilization just
one week after the couple married in 2006. "Because," she adds with knowing
emphasis, "life can turn on a dime."
As it did last November, when she sat with Mahoney in his doctor's office
and together they received the frightening news: It was cancer. As the spouse
of someone suddenly sick, Cross went from "just living everyday life to being
thrown into this alternate universe of hospitals and doctors and radiation and