Affected by Cancer
- Tamra Judge starred on the Real Housewives of Orange County from season 3 through 14, and cancer actually influenced the reality star’s decision to leave the franchise early last year.
- Judge is a melanoma survivor, and her ex-husband Simon Barney went through stage 3 throat cancer.
- Two leading experts tell SurvivorNet how to reduce your chances of getting melanoma.
Not a stranger to hard times, Judge shared an inspiring reminder on how to look on the bright side of challenges thrown your way. “I know someone other than me needs to hear this today,” she wrote on the post.Read More
Judge, 53, is a melanoma survivor, but it wasn’t her own cancer scare that influenced the decision to part ways with Bravo for her emotional health. It was ex-husband Simon Barney’s stage 3 throat cancer diagnosis coupled with her current husband’s heart problems that made it an easy decision for the Glendale, California native.
“Anything that annoys you is teaching you patience. Anyone who abandons you is teaching you how to stand up on your own two feet,” the quote reads from late 1800s French philosopher Jackson Kiddard. “Anything that angers you is for teaching you forgiveness and compassion. Anything that has power over you is for teaching you how to take your power back.”
This last line can be especially inspiring for cancer patients, serving as a reminder that you can be in control of the disease and not lose sight of yourself.
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“Anything you hate is teaching you unconditional love. Anything you fear is teaching you courage to overcome your fear. Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.”
Sometimes, cancer can bring you light as you realize what is no longer serving you so that you gravitate toward less toxic situations. Cancer may take a lot of things from us, but it can be an instant eye opener of what is best for your health.
In an interview last year with People magazine, Judge said that she just felt different at the season 14 reunion. “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 the health battles affecting her current and former husbands made her “reevaluate” her life.
“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 said. “They’ve taught me that life is precious, and you don’t get that time back.”
Simon went through chemotherapy and radiation, having finished treatment early last year.
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Simon, a sales manager and consultant, is the father of three out of Judge’s four children: Sidney, Sophia and Spencer. Judge’s first child, Ryan, is with her first husband Darren Vieth.
Catching Melanoma Early
Judge had her own terrifying cancer scare when she was diagnosed with stage 1 melanoma in 2017.
“The masseuse told me, ‘Oh, you have this little tiny black dot,’” Judge said in an interview with Us Weekly. “And it was literally on my butt, like, the side of my butt. And she goes, ‘I think if I were you, I would get that checked out.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, OK.’ And I didn’t think anything of it.”
Her doctor told her she had skin cancer.
“She did the biopsy. And about a week later, she calls me and she’s like, ‘It’s melanoma,’” Judge said, expressing her shock from having to hear those words.
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“I’m showing you this picture because this is what melanoma looks like,” the fitness competitor said. “I don’t want sympathy, I want you to save YOUR ass and get your skin checked. This was just a small black flat freckle…. I had no idea! I’ll be fine because my faith is strong and my Ass ain’t bad either.”
Protecting Yourself from the Sun
If Judge hadn’t met with her massage therapist, there’s a chance she never would have gotten the mole on her bum checked out. As she had mentioned, it didn’t look too suspicious, and resembled more of a “freckle.” That just goes to show why it’s so imperative to get an expert to screen your skin. It can help prevent cancer or catch it an early stage so that it’s more treatable.
Dr. Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist and surgeon from Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, tells SurvivorNet the top ways to protect yourself from the sun.
- Avoid sun during peak hours, which is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect the tops of our head, and the tops of our ears, and then the delicate area around the eye.
- Wear SPF of 30 or higher—a bare minimum of 30—and make sure to reapply every two hours, or after excessive sweating, or after swimming.
- Have yearly skin checks, because it’s difficult to evaluate areas all over the body. And so we need to get a professional to make sure that we’re monitoring everything that we should.
- Avoid tanning beds. “There is absolutely no benefit to going to a tanning bed, and it can really significantly increase your risk of melanoma. So if you need to have sun before a big event, that’s fine. But make sure it’s a sunless tanner,” she says.
Dr. Cecilia Larocca, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, tells SurvivorNet how we can start managing the risk of skin cancer now even if we’ve already had a lot of sun exposure when younger.
“When it comes to melanoma, if you use sunscreen, there is this great study that came out of Australia that says if patients used sunscreen consistently over a period of 10 years, they were actually able to reduce their risk for melanoma by 50%,” Dr. Larocca says. “So I think that’s really empowering for patients to know that that’s something that they can take charge of at home to really help reduce that risk going forward. Even though we can’t take back our sun exposure history when we were younger, we can still modify that risk going forward.”