NeNe Leakes is a totally different person following husband Gregg's battle with Stage 3 colon cancer, the Real Housewives of Atlanta star admitted of the disease's impact on her marriage and friendships on her first appearance in Season 12 of the Bravo show Sunday.
“I am definitely not the same NeNe as I was last year,” she admitted, saying that while Gregg is now officially cancer-free, the diagnosis and treatment process nearly meant an end to their marriage.
“Before Gregg got diagnosed with cancer, we were already in a tough place,” she told the camera. “It was probably the worst thing we’ve been through.”
RHOA fans watched NeNe and Gregg struggle all through last season with their new roles in their relationship, with NeNe saying in a January episode, "Being a caregiver is a difficult role to play. Gregg having cancer, he's grouchy; he's sad; he's depressed. He puts all that energy on me."
"I'm the closest thing to him, so if he wants to vent or yell or be mean, I'm the person that he's doing that to," she added. "It really has been difficult for me."
In a subsequent appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, she explained, "The day that Gregg told us Gregg has cancer, my life changed in that moment."
"You know, being a caretaker is very hard. It's just been very difficult," she said. "I feel like that day I lost my husband — because he's not with me; we don't do the things that we normally do together. It changed our life. We're not even in the same bedroom."
The two appear to be doing better, however, as NeNe said Sunday their marriage is “healing from the cancer journey.”
Now to pick up the pieces with some of her RHOA co-stars, including Cynthia Bailey, who last season was accused of inviting NeNe's enemy Kenya Moore to a finale party in a move to poke at her supposed friend.
“I’ve been working with a spiritual advisor,” NeNe said. “She helps me with not just my personal relationship with my husband, but with my girlfriends, how to move forward.”
“Cynthia and I’s falling out is very different than me having any falling out [with] any other girl in this group because we were very close,” NeNe added. “So my fear is our friendship will never be the same.”
Gregg advised his wife, “Own up to what your involvement was. Own up to that," which NeNe appeared to take to heart: "I know I’ve been petty,” she said. “I’m in a different head space now.”
Things were all coming to a head at the end of the episode when NeNe came face-to-face with Bailey, but viewers will just have to wait until next week to see how that confrontation goes down.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.
Photo credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images