The Real Housewives of Orange County alum has been diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer, he recently confirmed to PEOPLE. “I think everything happens for a reason, I think your destiny is pretty much set for you, and you’re here to learn lessons,” Simon told PEOPLE, adding that he is taking on this fight "with optimism" and hopes to show "the good this has ultimately brought my life."
Simon said he first noticed his salivary glands were swollen on one side in May. Doctors initially thought it was just an infection, but an ultrasound and biopsy showed that other areas were also affected, including the side of his neck. He was ultimately diagnosed with cancer.
A follow-up appointment with new doctors found that the cancer had spread to Simon's throat, tonsils, and lymph nodes. A biopsy showed that the cancer was too spread out for surgery, so Simon would need to go through a dual treatment of chemotherapy and radiation.
Simon undergoes chemotherapy every three weeks and radiation every day, five days a week, for a total of seven weeks. “The process is the real bad part,” Simon said. “It basically attacks all of your organs. You’re like poisoned. It’s been killing me. If I had a choice, I probably wouldn’t have done chemo and radiation at the same time, but that’s what they recommended. It’s like hitting your head with a hammer and pouring gas on yourself. I was ready to end it the other day, the symptoms were so bad. It’s almost [worse] than the cancer.”
He said that he really feels the impact of the chemo by the weekend when the steroids he had been receiving during the treatment wear off. “I just curl up in a ball for the whole weekend in my bed, and then pray that the truck gets off me," Simon shared. "Because I was run over by one.”
Simon also described feeling like he can't walk after receiving a shot that's supposed to help his white blood cells multiply and experiencing "a 9 out of 10 pain" after radiation. Eating has also been extremely difficult. “You have an appetite but you can’t eat anything because your taste buds are gone, or they taste and smell like chemo — this metallic, disgusting taste and smell,” he said. “My throat is swollen and bleeding which makes it difficult to swallow even water.”
Still, Simon said that he has stayed hopeful as his doctors give him a lot of encouragement. “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,” he said. “I’m a huge optimist; the glass is always half full, not half empty. And I’ve always been that way, the cancer just enhanced it."
Staying positive is crucial during his battle with cancer, Simon told PEOPLE. “Everyone in my life has been so supportive and offered to drive me to treatments and take care of me, but my whole motto is, ‘Don’t treat me like a cancer patient because that’s not how I want to be treated,’" Simon explained. "So I stay strong and don’t let this take me down. Because if your attitude sucks — if you start believing, ‘Oh my God, cancer’s a death sentence’ — then you’re done.”
“Listen, if it’s my time to die, it’s my time to die,” Simon added. “I’ve lived a good life, and you can’t do anything about that. But if it’s not, then I’m going to fight this. I’m going to fight it with a smile and a laugh, and I’m going to beat it. It’s whatever my destiny is.”
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