Marcia Cross Credits Her Family and Her 'Anal Angels' for Helping Her Through Cancer Treatment

The actress, who was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2017, is now cancer-free

Marcia Cross is the first to admit she’s grateful.

Now cancer-free after being diagnosed with anal cancer in November 2017, the actress credits the amazing support she received from her family and tight-knit friends, including a group affectionately named her “Anal Angels.” “It was really hard for me actually go to the place of being the receiver because I have always been the caretaker,” Cross tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue.

Marcia Cross/Instagram

During her six-week course of chemotherapy and radiation which began shortly before Christmas in 2017, her husband of almost 13 years, Tom Mahoney, 61, “helmed up” their 12-year-old twin daughters, Eden and Savannah, “who were amazing,” she adds. “And my girlfriends rallied together and took care of me around the clock.”

For more of Cross’ exclusive interview, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

While the treatment was “gnarly,” three months later Cross received the news that the cancer was gone. “What I really remember is my husband crying,” says the actress of Mahoney, who also survived throat cancer. “We watched each other go through some of the worst things imaginable, but he never showed that he was worried or anything so seeing him weep blew me away.”

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The actress decided to share her journey after receiving so much support following her post on Instagram last September revealing her own cancer diagnosis. “I want to help put a dent in the stigma around anal cancer,” Cross says. “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.”

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