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The Daily Dish The Real Housewives of Orange County

Tamra Judge Says Simon Barney's Cancer Diagnosis Influenced RHOC Exit: "It Made Me Reevaluate My Life"

Tamra Judge thought about announcing her departure at The Real Housewives of Orange County Season 14 reunion.

By Laura Rosenfeld
Tamra Judge Simon Barney RHOC Exit

Tamra Judge announced that she would not be returning to The Real Housewives of Orange County as a Housewife in January, but she had actually been sitting with that news for some time.

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The RHOC wellness expert opened up about her decision to step back from the series after 12 seasons during an interview on Radio Andy's Jeff Lewis Live on Thursday, February 20, revealing that she had actually thought about sharing the news during the RHOC Season 14 reunion. The reunion was filmed in November, shortly after Tamra's ex-husband, Simon Barney, informed her that he had been diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer.

"I was going to say I wasn't coming back at the reunion. I had just found out about Simon days before the reunion. I was a mess. I had been crying. I was crying — I don't want to cry now — I was crying in my dressing room, like, I can't go out there. And everyone's like, 'What's wrong?' And I'm like, 'I can't do this,'" Tamra recalled. "I was going to tell everybody then that it was gonna be too hard for me to go back, you know, with Simon going through treatment and the kids. How are they gonna deal with it? At this time, he had just found out and hadn't started treatment. I didn't know what to expect. So [my husband Eddie Judge]'s like, 'Yeah, just go do it.'"

Tamra recently told PEOPLE that she had a totally different energy at the RHOC Season 14 reunion as she was still processing the news about Simon. “You can tell my behavior at the reunion was very subdued,” she said. “I didn’t want to fight with anybody. My mind was not there at all. I hadn’t told production about Simon, so they didn’t fully understand what was wrong with me. But I told [costar Shannon Beador], ‘I feel like this is my last season.’ In my gut, I knew I wouldn’t come back.”

She said that Simon's cancer diagnosis coupled with Eddie's ongoing heart issues was a wakeup call. “It made me reevaluate my life,” she said.

“The reality of it is, after Eddie’s heart condition and now Simon with cancer, it’s just very hard for me to want to go on a show where people are screaming and yelling and arguing about things that don’t even matter,” she continued to PEOPLE. “They’ve taught me that life is precious, and you don’t get that time back.”

Tamra also remembered feeling like "a wreck" at BravoCon in November, which took place just days after filming the RHOC Season 14 reunion. She even got emotional while talking about Simon during the RHOC panel, tearing up while praising her ex-husband for being "an amazing dad."

“Everyone knew something was going on with me, but I wasn’t telling anyone because Simon had asked me not to," Tamra reflected on that moment during her interview with PEOPLE. "I just wanted to get away from the show and get away from the press and get home to my family.”

Tamra previously hinted that some personal issues had played into her decision to not return to RHOC as a Housewife during an Instagram Live conversation with Andy Cohen in January. "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 said. "I just need a little bit of privacy in my life right now."

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