One day at a time. Tamra Judge has dealt with “multiple skin cancers” through the years, but she’s still fighting like a champion.
The Real Housewives of Orange County alum, 53, first opened up about her melanoma diagnosis in August 2017 and has since become a vocal advocate for spotting the signs of skin cancer and for the American Cancer Society, which has been a source of relief amid her journey. While speaking to Us Weekly exclusively, Judge shared her story and encouraged fans to lend their support to the American Cancer Society this holiday season.
“I was actually filming in 2017,” the reality star explained. “We had some off time, so decided to get a massage in my room. So the masseuse told me, ‘Oh, you have this little tiny black dot.’ 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.”
A few months later, Judge went to an appointment at her dermatologist’s office and mentioned the small mark found by the massage therapist. “She did the biopsy. And about a week later, she calls me and she’s like, ‘It’s melanoma.’ … I’d never heard those words before.”
After receiving her diagnosis, the entrepreneur “started bawling,” even though her cancer was “very treatable.” Judge was told her melanoma was stage I and hadn’t given the mark a second thought before she got the suggestion to have it looked at.
“I probably would have never, ever even knew it was there because I am not turning around and looking back there,” she said. “It didn’t hurt. There was nothing, it wasn’t raised. There was no reason for me to think there was something wrong. … But it was just going through the process and then just thinking, ‘OK, my body is failing me. I actually have melanoma.'”
In October 2018, Judge had another biopsy done on the skin around her breasts and showed off her stitches on social media. She told her Instagram followers later that month that she was melanoma free. Throughout her health battles, the California native has been grateful for the support of her husband, Eddie Judge.
“He’s always so positive,” she told Us. “I’m always thinking the worst and he’s always thinking the best until the worst happens. He’s like, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just, you know, do what the doctor tells you to do when it’s a stage I.’ … It’s just scary. Nobody wants to hear those words ever.”
Though she hasn’t experienced a health scare in several years, Tamra is still passionate about helping cancer patients get the care they deserve, especially amid the COVID-19 crisis. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 80 percent of cancer patients needing treatment have reported delays in their care due to the pandemic, which reduced the organization’s funding by 50 percent in 2020.
“It’s a very scary time to be fighting any kind of disease right now where you need medical treatment,” she noted. “I just think that you just have to stay strong, trust your doctor, be persistent, get second opinions. … [Fans] can definitely donate. They can volunteer, they can fundraise. There’s a lot of things that they can do [to help out].”
To support the American Cancer Society and patients fighting illness this holiday season, visit the organization’s website.