Simon Barney, the ex-husband of "Real Housewives of Orange County" star Tamra Judge, announced that he was diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer in an exclusive interview with People magazine on Tuesday.
In his conversation with People, Barney said that he first noticed last May that he had swollen salivary glands. An ultrasound and biopsy found other affected areas, and Barney was eventually diagnosed with throat cancer. A follow-up appointment revealed that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, tonsils and throat.
"I’m a private person, despite what my time on reality television might say," Barney told People. "But I wanted to speak before someone else does and uses their words, not mine. And to speak out about it so others can see how I've taken this fight on with optimism, and the good this has ultimately brought my life."
After doctors dismissed surgery as a treatment option, due to how much the cancer had spread, Barney began to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments in January. He told People that the intensive treatments gave him side effects like difficulty eating, swelling and bleeding in his throat, "constant buzzing in his ear" and "slight" hair loss.
"I have hope," Barney told People. "Doctors have said I'm doing really well so far. They look at me and they go, 'Man, you don't look like you're going through chemo.' So that's good, the prognosis is good."
Barney has three children with Judge and was married to Judge for 13 years before the pair divorced in 2011. He told their children — aged 21, 19 and 14 — about his diagnosis before undergoing treatment. Barney is currently engaged to Catushia Ienni, his fiancée of nine years.
"It's kind of like a new beginning for me and my family," Barney told People. "When I told Tamra, she said she cried for like, two or three days. Things changed with our relationship from there, in a good way. We're getting along in ways we haven't in years. And she's become close with my fiancée. And that shift carried across the board with my kids, too."
Barney and Judge appeared together in the "Real Housewives of Orange County" when they were married but Barney filed for divorce in January 2010, accusing Judge of being "verbally abusive" and committing "acts of disloyalty and infidelity," according to E! News. The couple's divorce was finalized in 2011, and in November 2019 Judge opened up at BravoCon about their "volatile relationship."
Despite the pair's history, Judge posted a supportive message to Instagram about Barney's diagnosis.
"Please keep @sbarney855 and our family in your prayers," she wrote, alongside a screenshot of the People article. "It's been a very emotional 4 months and we are rallying together as a family to get through this."
"He told me the news and we both literally started crying," Judge told People. "I just couldn't believe it. My first thought was, 'I don't want to take my kids to their dad's funeral,' and immediately, any ill feelings between the two of us just vanished. At the end of the day, none of that matters. All we have to do is rally together to make it through this."