Going through cancer can be a transformative process, according to Marcia Cross. The former Desperate Housewives star, 57, was diagnosed with anal cancer back in November 2017 and is now opening up about her journey, telling People she feels like “a new me.”

“I want to help put a dent in the stigma around anal cancer,” Marcia told the mag. “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.”

The mom-of-two discovered she had cancer after getting her annual checkup at the gynecologist. After a digital rectal exam, Marcia’s doctor sent her to a colon and rectal surgeon who, after two biopsies, revealed that she indeed had colon cancer. Luckily they had caught it early and they ordered six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. Marcia called it a “relief” that surgery wasn’t recommended.

Even though medical professionals said her hair wouldn’t fall out, she noticed that wasn’t the case several months after completing the “gnarly” treatment. As it turns out, it was actually happening from stress. Marcia told People her hair loss was “disconcerting” at first but, in the end, she is “really glad it fell out” because “it was totally humbling and heart-opening.”

Now, nearly a year into remission, Marcia is cancer-free and doctors say the probability of a recurrence is low. On top of that, she wants to use her platform to remind people to be aware of symptoms and have a dialogue with their doctor if they have any concerns.

“If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your body and talk to your doctor,” the actress, who is back to work and currently shooting the Jane the Virgin spinoff for the CW, warns. “Don’t let it go. It’s a very curable cancer if caught early, which mine was.”

Congrats on kicking cancer in the butt, Marcia. And thank you for telling your story.