Simon Barney is undergoing aggressive radiation and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer of the throat. Barney, who was married to Real Housewives of Orange County star Tamra Judge for 13 years before their divorce in 2011, revealed his diagnosis in an interview with PEOPLE Tuesday, saying he wanted to share the news on his own terms.
"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," he told the outlet. "I think everything happens for a reason, I think your destiny is pretty much set for you, and you're here to learn lessons. This has been a tough lesson for me. And I'm hoping it can be a lesson for others, too."
Barney told PEOPLE he first noticed his salivary glands were swollen on one side prior to his diagnosis, which doctors eventually biopsied and learned was cancerous. In a follow-up appointment, doctors found the cancer had spread into his throat, tonsils and lymph nodes. With surgery being out of the picture due to the spread of the cancer, Barney was prescribed dual treatment of chemotherapy and radiation for a total of seven weeks.
"The process is the real bad part," Barney explained. "It basically attacks all of your organs. You're like poisoned. It's been killing me. If I had a choice, I probably wouldn't have done chemo and radiation at the same time, but that's what they recommended. It's like hitting your head with a hammer and pouring gas on yourself. I was ready to end it the other day, the symptoms were so bad. It's almost worst than the cancer."
"You go in Monday, you get the chemo. By Friday, Saturday, Sunday, all the steroids are wearing off that they give you, and it really hits you," he added. "I just curl up in a ball for the whole weekend in my bed, and then pray that the truck gets off me. Because I was run over by one."
He continued, "Then they give you a shot that's supposed to help your white blood cells multiply, and that hurts your bones, so you feel like you can't walk. And then the radiation, basically they hit me in my neck, my throat, and the tonsil area. It's like a 9 out of 10 pain. It's a lot of pain."
While the treatment is aggressive, Barney has "hope" that he will be able to recover from his diagnosis.
"Doctors have said I'm doing really well so far," he noted. "They look at me and they go, 'Man, you don't look like you're going through chemo.' So that's good, the prognosis is good."
As for his mindset, Barney is staying positive.
"I'm a huge optimist; the glass is always half full, not half empty. And I've always been that way, the cancer just enhanced it," Barney says. "I'm kind of a jokester. And everyone in my life has been so supportive and offered to drive me to treatments and take care of me, but my whole motto is, 'Don't treat me like a cancer patient because that's not how I want to be treated.' So I stay strong and don't let this take me down. Because if your attitude sucks -- if you start believing, 'Oh my God, cancer's a death sentence' -- then you're done."
That doesn't mean he hasn't considered the alternative.0comments
"Listen, if it's my time to die, it's my time to die," Barney said. "I've lived a good life, and you can't do anything about that. But if it's not, then I'm going to fight this. I'm going to fight it with a smile and a laugh, and I'm going to beat it. It's whatever my destiny is."
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