Since the “Desperate Housewives” finale aired last May, Marcia Cross has stayed mostly low-key. But when she was asked to participate in a PSA to promote prostate cancer awareness, she says it was a “no-brainer” because her close friend’s husband had been diagnosed with the disease.
“There are so many causes out there but when someone you know is affected by it, it becomes more personal,” Cross, 51, who also advocated for breast cancer awareness after her friend – the same friend whose husband was sick – learned she had the disease, tells ABC News.
“It’s so selfish that I get to do something so simple and I get to feel like I’ve done something.”
For Cross, who has partnered with Safeway Foundation and Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), cancer has been an all-too-familiar presence. Not only have her friends been diagnosed with the disease, but her longtime companion, Richard Jordan, died of brain cancer in 1993, and her husband, stockbroker Tom Mahoney, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2011. He is in remission.
Such experiences, which Cross calls “scary,” was especially fraught because the couple, who married in 2006, has young children: twins Eden and Savannah, now 6.
“I’ve shielded them from a lot of things, but I’ve introduced little facts,” she says of her kids’ understanding of the disease. “It’s weird that they lived through [their dad's experience], but they still don’t know much about cancer. I try to keep it age appropriate.”
And now that her husband is in better health and her ABC drama has wrapped (yes, the cast is still in touch, and Cross says they’re having lunch next month!), she’s focusing on spending as much time with her family as possible, and reveling in her twins’ blossoming personalities.
“They’re such different girls, but the beauty is they really complement each other and they get along beautifully,” she says. “Savannah is my scientist. She’s more concrete and scientific. She’s got her dad’s analytical mind. Eden is always upside down, doing cartwheels and spinning yards. More imaginative and lyrical. I love hanging out with them.”
So much so that this summer, she and Mahoney will take their girls to Paris for a week.
“I feel like, I’m an older mother, do it now, do everything now,” she says. “Life can turn on a dime. We’re healthy, we can do it, they want to be with us. Let’s do everything now while we can.”