The Desperate Housewives actress, who is now in remission after her November 2017 diagnosis, is thankful to be able to witness an important milestone in her children’s life: their graduation.
“As I sat at my twin daughters’ graduation yesterday, I was so grateful to be alive and well and thought that if I could give that gift to another person it would all be worth it,” Cross, 57, told CNN.
Cross is a mom to daughters Savannah and Eden, 12, with husband Tom Mahoney, who is also in remission after receiving a throat cancer diagnosis in 2009.
Since publicly revealing her cancer treatment, the star has made it her mission to spread awareness and educate people on human papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually transmitted disease that caused her cancer and, doctors suspect, her husband’s cancer.
“It is difficult to talk about but so important and we just need to push through,” she told CNN. “In spite of the optics, I care deeply about saving lives. To that end, the important thing to do is educate the public about HPV.”
Cross added, “It is so common that nearly every person who is sexually active will get it at some point in their lifetime. HPV can cause cervical and other cancers… It can take years, even decades to develop.”
Cross recently urged viewers of CBS This Morning to get the HPV vaccine during an appearance on the show Wednesday.
The actress, who learned she had cancer during a routine checkup with her gynecologist, told PEOPLE in March that by attaching her name to the disease, she hopes she can end the stigma that anal cancer is somehow “embarrassing.”
“I want 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 said.
Cross also shared that she’s become especially grateful for the little things in life.
“Every time I go to the bathroom, I think, ‘That’s awesome! Thank you body,’” she said.