We're finally getting the FULL story about what went into the OC Housewife's exit.
Earlier this week, news broke that Tamra Judge's ex-husband Simon Barney was diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer. The devastating news not only brought their estranged family back together but apparently played a massive role in Tamra not returning to The Real Housewives of Orange County for season 15.
Tamra spoke to PEOPLE and revealed she was an emotional wreck after Simon told her the news of his diagnosis back in November and she immediately knew she couldn't return to the reality show she had starred on for the last 12 years. The CUT Fitness owner explained:
“Simon had told me about his health back in November and I was completely destroyed. I was a mess! This is the father of my children. Any ill will between the two us just vanished. My first thought was, ‘I don’t want to take my kids to their dad’s funeral.’ And my second was, ‘I don’t want to go back to the show.’ 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."
Following the news, Tamra admitted she decided she wanted to quit the show on her own to deal with her family crisis away from the stress of Bravo cameras, however, after some conversations with friends, she decided she'd give the show another go, she shared:
“I thought, I’ll be the first Housewife to go and be like, ‘This is my last year, I won’t be back.’ Because I was really done. But I ran it by a few people close to me who said, ‘Don’t do that right now because you’re emotional and you don’t know how you’re going to be feeling in a few months.’ So I agreed, I might have just been reacting too quickly. I wanted to [quit], but this was my job for the past 12 years. I was helping support my family with that income. And God forbid, if Simon doesn’t make it? I just wasn’t strong enough to just walk away.”
The shock news of Simon's cancer also influenced her subdued behavior during the season 14 reunion and caused her to cry when her ex's name was brought up at BravoCon only a few days later. The CUT Fitness owner revealed:
“You can tell my behavior at the reunion was very subdued. 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 Shannon [Beador], ‘I feel like this is my last season.’ In my gut, I knew I wouldn’t come back. I was a wreck [at BravoCon]. Everyone knew something was going on with me, but I wasn’t telling anyone because Simon had asked me not to. I just wanted to get away from the show and get away from the press and get home to my family.”
After the reunion had aired and the reunion was over, Tamra was under the impression from the network that she'd be back for another season, however, she struggled with the thought of having to film a reality show about her life, when she didn't want to talk about Simon's cancer on TV. Tamra explained:
“They wanted to know what I’d be up to, and knowing Simon didn’t want me to talk about it, I told them I had a lot going on in my life that I wouldn’t be able to film. I said to them that it was going to be hard for me to film all the time, and that I didn’t know how much of a commitment I could put into filming. Because in my mind, I knew there was going to be a phone call during filming where someone needed me — where Simon was in the hospital, or one of my kids were upset — and I’d need to handle all that stuff, away from the cameras.”
“It was very difficult for me. For three weeks, I was a fucking mess. I cried every single day. And then they called and scheduled a production meeting for a few weeks before filming, and I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be able to go back to this show and keep this a secret. There’s no way I could just film as if nothing’s wrong.’ So I just prayed and prayed and prayed for divine intervention. I was like, ‘God, please make this decision for me.’"
Following this stressful time, God (and Bravo) made the decision for Tamra. Days before she was scheduled to have a production meeting to talk about what was going on with her life, the network offered her a three-episode role to wrap up her time on the show instead of returning as Housewife. However, as we all know she declined the offer and decided to walk away from the show altogether. She explained her decision saying:
"Those three episodes wouldn’t make any sense to me because I am very much a person who is very honest on the show. At the time, Simon did not want to come forward with it, so I could not talk about it. It didn’t make any sense for me to be like, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been very busy now, gotta go,’ because it would be a lie. I just knew there would be no way to get around it. I couldn’t go back and be myself. I couldn’t be honest. I couldn’t be real.“
Although most of Tamra's decision for not wanting to return to the show was due to Simon not wanting to share his cancer diagnosis with the public, she said they finally decided to reveal it through PEOPLE to use their own words, before it leaked out to the press in another way. She shared:
“I’m a private person, despite what my time on reality television might say. 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.”
Since her exit, Andy Cohen has continuously hinted that he wants Tamra to return to the show in the future, however, Tamra said she's not thinking about that at all right now, saying she just wants to be with her family for the time been.
The universe really does work in mysterious ways, between Simon's cancer and Tamra leaving reality TV, they have finally fixed their fractured family, which is more important than fighting with Kelly Dodd over a dumb train rumor.
Thoughts? Sound off in the comments!