Vicki Gunvalson knew something wasn't right with Brooks Ayers' health, but she wasn't prepared to find out he had stage 3 cancer. Speaking with Us Weekly's Brody Brown recently in an exclusive joint interview with Ayers, the Real Housewives of Orange County veteran said she "just burst into tears" when he told her his diagnosis earlier this fall.
Sitting down at her Coto de Caza, Calif., house, Gunvalson and her on-again boyfriend opened up to Us all about his latest battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which he first learned he had in 2009. (This is his third time fighting the disease.) During the chat, they revealed that Louisiana native Ayers is now living with Gunvalson at her home, and that they've been officially together for over a year now, with no off period during that time.
"[Cancer] either will tear you apart as a couple or bring you together. And with us, without a doubt, it's brought us together," Ayers explained.
"So, yes, we are exclusive, we are dating, we are together," Gunvalson piped in. "It's official."
That might not sit well with the reality star's daughter, Briana Culberson, who famously clashed with Ayers in the past, but Gunvalson is standing by her man. "Briana and I, we've kind of agreed to disagree on this one subject," she said, noting that she hadn't yet told her daughter that Ayers had moved in. "She doesn't know Brooks is in, but I guess she will now!"
Ayers, for his part, said he was "ready and willing" to make peace with Culberson, "given the appropriate opportunity to apologize to her, face to face" for his past mistakes. "She deserves that," he admitted, adding that he "understands" Gunvalson's kids wanting to protect their mother.
In the meantime, the couple are leaning on Ayers' kids, and on Gunvalson's fellow OC Housewives — most of them, anyway. "Shannon [Beador] was absolutely there for us. Heather [Dubrow] also reached out. And [Heather's husband] Terry, Lizzie [Rovsek]," the Bravo-lebrity told Us.
One person who hasn't reached out? Former BFF Tamra Barney. "Never heard from Tamra," Gunvalson revealed. "Interesting. You know what, you really find out who your true friends are when things like this happen."
Watch the video above for more from our interview with Vicki Gunvalson and Brooks Ayers!