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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.

Marcia Cross's Personal Connection to Cancer continued...

Too many people, Cross would agree, are still confronted with this disease. More than 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and an additional 11 million-plus Americans are classified as cancer survivors. As one of Hollywood's most successful television actresses, Cross has a powerful platform from which to speak -- specifically to promote cancer prevention and early detection.

"Celebrity ambassadors like Marcia are tapped for their degree of influence to extend the reach of our message," says Kathleen Lobb, founding member of SU2C, "which is to communicate to every American that they can do something to end cancer, whether it's to donate one dollar or 1 million dollars to support research, or to change personal behaviors and begin screenings for themselves and their loved ones."

And while she is open to complementary and alternative treatments, Cross says she isn't sure she "would pick one as my first line of defense." But she thinks it's essential to consider "what's available to treat the whole body … one system should complement the other."

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!"

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