Just days ago, Tamra Judge's ex-husband Simon Barney revealed his Stage 3 throat cancer diagnosis. The news is grim, but still hopeful.
Tamra has known for months, and she says that it even played a role in her decision to quit The Real Housewives of Orange County.
Tamra Judge has opened up to People about how her ex-husband's cancer battle influenced her decision to quit The Real Housewives of Orange County.
"It made me reevaluate my life," she says of learning Simon's serious diagnosis of Stage 3 throat cancer.
"Simon had told me about his health back in November," Tamra reveals, "and I was completely destroyed."
“I was a mess!" she characterizes.
Tamra explains the scope of her horror: "This is the father of my children."
"Any ill will between the two us just vanished," she expresses.
"My first thought was, ‘I don’t want to take my kids to their dad’s funeral,'" Tamra bluntly shares.
She adds: "And my second was, ‘I don’t want to go back to the show.’"
"The reality of it is, after Eddie’s heart condition and now Simon with cancer," Tamra begins to explain.
She continues: 'It’s just very hard for me to want to go on a show."
At least, Tamra details, a show "where people are screaming and yelling and arguing about things that don’t even matter."
“They’ve taught me that life is precious," she says, "and you don’t get that time back."
"I thought, I’ll be the first Housewife to go and be like, ‘This is my last year, I won’t be back.’ Because I was really done,” Tamra shares.
“But I ran it by a few people close to me," she explains.
These were folks "who said, ‘Don’t do that right now because you’re emotional and you don’t know how you’re going to be feeling in a few months.'"
"So I agreed," Tamra says, with regard to responding to the excellent advice. "I might have just been reacting too quickly."
"You can tell my behavior at the reunion was very subdued,” Tamra cites as evidence.
“I didn’t want to fight with anybody," she admits.
"My mind was not there at all."
"I hadn’t told production about Simon," Tamra notes, "so they didn’t fully understand what was wrong with me."
"But," Tamra reveals, "I told [costar Shannon Beador], ‘I feel like this is my last season.’"
"In my gut, I knew I wouldn’t come back," Tamra states.
"I was a wreck,” she characterizes.
“Everyone knew something was going on with me," she admits.
Tamra adds: "But I wasn’t telling anyone because Simon had asked me not to."
"I just wanted to get away from the show and get away from the press and get home to my family," Tamra recalls.
"I’ve grown close with his fiancee [Catushia Ienni]," she announces.
"It makes me happy Simon has someone like her who can take care of him from day to day," Tamra expresses.
"And we’re all our talking with our kids again," she says, "after the estrangement."
"We’ve all rallied together to be there for Simon and make sure he has the support he needs," Tamra says.
She poured herself into that, even though it was a favor in her losing her job.
"They wanted to know what I’d be up to," Tamra says of Bravo when they offered her the three-episode arc in lieu of full Housewife status.
"And knowing Simon didn’t want me to talk about it," she explains, "I told them I had a lot going on in my life that I wouldn’t be able to film.”
Tamra recounts: “I said to them that it was going to be hard for me to film all the time."
She told them that "and that I didn’t know how much of a commitment I could put into filming."
"Because in my mind," Tamra explains, "I knew there was going to be a phone call during filming where someone needed me."
"Where Simon was in the hospital, or one of my kids were upset," she elaborates, "and I’d need to handle all that stuff, away from the cameras."
So why didn't Tamra just come right out and tell Bravo "actually, I'll pass on Season 15" before they made her the insulting lowball offer?
"I wanted to," she admits, "but this was my job for the past 12 years."
"I was helping support my family with that income," Tamra notes.
"And God forbid, if Simon doesn’t make it?" she grimly wonders. "I just wasn’t strong enough to just walk away."
"It was very difficult for me,” Tamra expresses. “For three weeks, I was a f—ing mess. I cried every single day."
"And then they called and scheduled a production meeting for a few weeks before filming," she recalls.
Tamra adds: "And I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be able to go back to this show and keep this a secret.'"
"'There’s no way I could just film as if nothing’s wrong,'" she shares. "So I just prayed and prayed and prayed for divine intervention."
Tamra characterizes her thoughts during the dilemma: "I was like, ‘God, please make this decision for me.’"
"Those three episodes wouldn’t make any sense to me because I am very much a person who is very honest on the show,” she says of the 3-episode offer.
"At the time," she explains, "Simon did not want to come forward with it, so I could not talk about it."
"It didn’t make any sense for me to be like, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been very busy now, gotta go,’ because it would be a lie," Tamra admits.
"I just knew there would be no way to get around it," she concludes. "I couldn’t go back and be myself. I couldn’t be honest. I couldn’t be real."