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Marcia Cross and Migraines: No Longer Desperate

"Be your own health advocate ..."


Updated: January 9, 2008

Actress Marcia Cross, Migraine Sufferer
Editor's Note: Marcia Cross is a paid spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of medication for migraines.

Actress Marcia Cross is enjoying life, marriage, and a successful career. She's probably best know for the role of Bree Van De Kamp on "Desperate Housewives."

Marcia is also a migraineur who was kind enough to spend some time talking about migraine disease, how she handles her migraines, and why she thinks it's important to be properly diagnosed and treated.

ABOUT: Thank you for being willing to share your experiences with migraine disease. How frequently do you have migraine attacks?

CROSS: I’ve been really lucky lately. I haven’t had any since I’ve been pregnant. I feel like I’ve gotten them down to three to four a year. So I’m really doing well, which was not the case in the beginning. I really watch stress, and my trigger foods, and all the things I need to do to stay migraine-free. I just cannot stand that pain. For me, I just have to go home and get in a dark room and wait for it to pass. But waiting for it to pass still involves some pain.

ABOUT: Have you been able to manage your migraines with trigger management and abortive medication, or do you use any over-the-counter or prescription preventives at all?

CROSS: No preventatives, but I carry medicine with me at all times.

ABOUT: From your holiday tips, it’s really obvious that you place a strong emphasis on trigger management.

CROSS: Well, yes, because that’s the time of year when everybody stresses. Needlessly, I might add, because it’s really not the point of the holiday. You know, if you don’t have the perfect present, or if the turkey’s a little overcooked. It’s not worth getting a migraine over as far as I’m concerned.

ABOUT: Absolutely. Your family wants you, and what good are you with a migraine?

CROSS: None. You’re not there.

ABOUT: What are your triggers, Marcia?

CROSS: Oh, gosh. Red wine, chocolate, cheddar cheese, oranges. Those are my mainstays that I just really don’t touch. And then being stressed out ... I work really hard now [so] that I don’t stress the way that I used to. I’m not as internally tightly wound as I used to be. (laugh)

ABOUT: Don’t you think migraines teach us a lot about ourselves?

CROSS: Yeah, they do! And sometimes what would happen to me in the old days is that I would go through something incredibly stressful ... and I wasn’t taking care of myself. And after it was all over was when I’d get just a searing migraine. It would kind of wait until the stress peaked, and then when I let go, I’d get the migraine. And I’d be like, gosh, I didn’t even realize that I’d been stressing so badly. Now I don’t let that happen.

ABOUT: Did you do an elimination diet to identify food triggers, or were they so obvious that you didn’t need to do that?

CROSS: I just wrote them down, so if they were more than once, they seemed pretty obvious over time. But I didn’t do that for a long while ... I wish I’d started earlier, but it’s that kind of thing where you’re just kind of a victim to something, and then you sort of say, “Now I’ve gotta do whatever I can to be my own health advocate and change this.” I think that’s one of the reasons it’s good to speak out, because people can do things to be healthier and feel better. Even just getting diagnosed and having medication. I have a friend who would suffer with them and then the husband would run over for my medication. I’d be like, “It’s too late! Go to the doctor. This happens every two months.”

ABOUT: Part of it is that people don’t want to look at migraine as a disease, whereas they wouldn’t hesitate to do something if they had thyroid disease or diabetes. So you wonder why they hesitate to do something about migraine disease.

CROSS: I think it’s because they get confused that it’s just a headache, a really bad headache. I think when people get that in their heads, they can say, “Oh, it’s a bad headache.”

ABOUT: Maybe partly it’s because it’s an episodic disease. It doesn’t affect them every day.

CROSS: Right. So a little time will pass, and who wants to go to the doctor? So I think it just slips by.

Please continue to page 2 for the rest of this interview.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Headaches & Migraines
  4. Migraine 101
  5. Marcia Cross On Migraines - Interview with Marcia Cross On Migraines

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