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The Daily Dish The Real Housewives of Orange County

Tamra Judge on Ex Simon Barney's Cancer Diagnosis: "We Are Rallying Together as a Family"

“It’s kind of like a new beginning for me and my family," Simon Barney said.

By Laura Rosenfeld
Tamra Judge Simon Barney Cancer Diagnosis

Tamra Judge opened up about the devastating moment she first learned of ex-husband Simon Barney's cancer diagnosis in a recent interview with PEOPLE.

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The Real Housewives of Orange County mom recalled to the publication the day Simon shared the news that he had been diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer when they got together at a local Starbucks. “Honestly, I’ve never seen him like that. He told me the news and we both literally started crying. I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “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."

Tamra added that she and Simon have put their differences aside during this difficult time. "The kids were split after the divorce and chose sides but, at the end of the day, none of that matters,” she shared. "All we have to do is rally together to make it through this.”

She shared a similar sentiment in a post on Instagram on February 18. "Please keep [Simon] and our family in your prayers," Tamra wrote. "It’s been a very emotional 4 months and we are rallying together as a family to get through this."

Tamra said that Simon's cancer diagnosis has totally changed how they interact with one another in their post-divorce relationship. "Our conversations now are so different than they were before,” Tamra said. “Before there was always such hate behind them. Not that we would always say nasty things towards one another, but we both came from a place of hate. And now we’re coming from a place of concern. It just put everything in perspective and helped us remember [none] of that other s— means anything.”

Tamra and Simon have had a complicated relationship since they divorced in 2011 after 13 years of marriage. The split had created a rift in their family, with the couple's eldest daughter, Sidney, now 21 years old, not communicating with Tamra, and their son Spencer, now 19, not speaking to Simon.

Simon's cancer diagnosis changed all that. Tamra and Sidney are now communicating again, as are Simon and Spencer, according to PEOPLE. Simon has also been in contact more with Ryan Vieth, 34, Tamra's son from a previous relationship, who also went through some tense times with his former stepfather in the past. 

“It’s kind of like a new beginning for me and my family. It’s really brought everyone closer together,” Simon 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.”

Tamra and Simon are now co-parenting more closely than they have in the past. “We’re just talking more, especially with our youngest one [Sophia, 14], to make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to how to take her through this situation," Simon said. "I’ll say, ‘What do you think of this? I tell her this,’ and Tamra will go, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea, I’ll tell her that too.’ We never would have done that three, four years ago."

Tamra has even been getting along with Simon's fiancée of nine years, Catushia Ienni. “Tamra’s become close with my fiancée,” Simon said. “They text each other almost every day, which at first I was very uneasy. Like, ‘Okay, what are they saying? Is she telling her to get rid of me?’ But they’re really both just taking care of me.”

The RHOC wellness expert said that she is happy that Catushia has been there for Simon during this difficult time. “I’m just so grateful he has her by his side,” Tamra said. “I told her, ‘Thank God you’re here. I know we’ve had our differences, but I just want you to know I’m here for you too.’"

Tamra and Simon's family is finally getting to the place they had always hoped for. “That’s what I’ve always wanted," he said. “My fiancée, the same thing, she’s always wanted that with my ex-wife, for the kids. The kids would prefer it if we all got along. And they see that now, and it’s had such a powerful effect.”

Simon said that in fighting cancer, he has realized what's truly most important in life. “Things always happen for a reason, so when I was diagnosed, the first thing I asked myself was, ‘Why is this happening? What is it you’re doing wrong,'" he shared. “And I took a good look at myself and my life and I realized, I was working 12-hour days, stressing about everybody, and never really doing stuff for me. So now, I’m focusing on the things that bring me joy, like my family.”

Tamra previously hinted that she was going through some personal issues after announcing her departure from RHOC as a Housewife in January, although she did not specify what she was dealing with at the time. "I'm not going to go into detail right now, but I'm going through some difficult times right now and it was best for me to deal with it on my own," she told Andy Cohen during a conversation on Instagram Live. "I just need a little bit of privacy in my life right now."

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