Cancer is a touchy topic on The Real Housewives of Orange County, what with Vicki Gunvalson‘s ex-boyfriend Brooks Ayers spending a whole season forging cancer documents and covering up his lies in order to make the Orange County Housewives believed he was in treatment.
So it’s no surprise that 100th Housewife Peggy Sulahian’s cancer scare was met with some skepticism on Monday’s all-new episode, especially when she explained that she got her double mastectomy after her doctors found abnormal cancerous cells — something she had failed to mention before.
“They found something,” the 44-year-old reality star told a table of ladies including Shannon Beador, Meghan King Edmonds, Tamra Judge and Kelly Dodd during a night out. “They did a biopsy and then they found out that it was abnormal cells. And then they said, ‘We found three millimeters of some cancer.’ I get a call from them saying, ‘Come back. We found something.’ ”
The comments were confusing considering the mother of three had previously told her RHOC costars doctors “didn’t find anything.”
“I’m very confused,” Beador said. “I honestly don’t remember Peggy saying she had cancer. And now I’m hearing that they did find cancer. So I’m a little in the dark.”
“I retired,” King Edmonds, who had uncovered Ayers’ scheme, joked. “I don’t want to open another can of worms like I did with Brooks. Peggy’s being confusing in communicating her health history. You have cancer or you don’t have cancer, it’s very black and white. No more cancergate, please!”
But Sulahian was happy to clear things up, recounting that even though she had BRCA gene testing — which helps women know their chance of getting breast and ovarian cancer — produced negative results, her doctors still found small cells.
“We did the MRI, we did the biopsy, [and then I got a] call back saying that it’s abnormal cells,” she said, her doctor explaining “it was a pre-invasive cancer, it was small” in flashbacks.
“Abnormal cells means it can turn into cancer — it will turn if you don’t. They don’t want to take a chance. We’re taking care of it. With that being said, I went into the physician’s office, and she said, ‘Your [BRCA gene testing] came back negative but three millimeter, we found cancer.”
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Sulahian also addressed the issue in her BravoTV blog back in August.
“I want to clear up my cancer facts,” she wrote. “Over a span of ten years, I scheduled mammograms and MRI’s every six months, my doctor found a mass in my right breast in the MRI. The immediate response to this news, was to schedule a biopsy. Despite being negative on the BRCA gene testing, the biopsy revealed pre cancerous cells [DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in situ)] within my right breast. Few weeks later, we scheduled a surgery to remove the 25 mm of mass, and sent the mass to the pathologist. In a matter of weeks, I was told that of the 25 mm removed, 3mm of it was already cancer.”
Sulahian, whose mother died of breast cancer when Sulahian was just 21 years old, then made the tough decision to take precautionary measures of undergoing a bilateral mastectomy to avoid any future scares.
“My options were limited to 3 choices: chemo, radiation, or removal of my right breast,” she added. “To be the safest, I took the measure of removing both breasts instead of limiting myself to just one. I wanted to be as safe as possible, knowing that breast cancer runs in my family. Testing negative for the BRCA gene doesn’t guarantee the chance of not getting cancer. It’s a blessing that I caught the cancer before being aggressive.”
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As of now, Sulahian — who will document the process of getting reconstructive surgery on the show — is “100% cancer free.”
“Please stay on top of your appointments in order to dodge this terrible disease,” she wrote. “I want to emphasize that testing negative on the BRCA gene does NOT guarantee being free of cancer. Putting your life in the hands of a reconstructive surgeon isn’t easy. It’s a long healing process mentally and physically, but completely worth not living the rest of your life in fear. I’m currently considering becoming active in the cancer communities, in order to offer my advice, hear more stories, and provide emotional support for women encountering the road block in their life.”
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Mondays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.