RHOA: Why Gregg Leakes Decided Against Chemotherapy After Colon Cancer Surgery
On Sunday’s episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Gregg Leakes made the emotional decision not to undergo chemotherapy after having part of colon removed in the wake of his stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis.
It was a difficult choice to make, and it started when the businessman, 63, visited the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston with wife NeNe Leakes for a series of tests — including a CT scan — to determine the next step in his treatment process.
The goal was to hopefully hear that chemotherapy was not necessary, so that Gregg might explore holistic healing options.
As NeNe explained, “Chemo is not something that Gregg is thinking about doing at the moment. Obviously we hear all the report of people doing chemo and being very sick. So he feels like if there’s any other options that can take, I’d rather take those options and let chemo sit on the back burner for now.”
Sadly, that’s not what came recommended from Dr. Scott Kopetz, Gregg’s oncologist.
Though imaging tests showed the good news that there was no evidence cancer remained in Gregg’s body, Dr. Kopetz explained that Gregg was still at risk.
“There other areas of cancer that may still be in the body that we just don’t know about. Microscopic cancer cells floating around somewhere in the body that, if we don’t do anything for those, will grow back and show back up as cancer,” he told Gregg. “I would use chemotherapy at this point to try to reduce that risk of the cancer coming back. What we do know is that chemotherapy can reduce that risk of the cancer coming back by about half.”
Asked about alternative medicines, Dr. Kopetz revealed that none of those “have been studied in a more rigorous way,” or have been found effective. “We’re certainly supportive of patients who want to think about how to integrated that,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing that we have that I can recommend in lieu of the chemotherapy that we know could help reduce that risk.”
“I don’t want to miss out of the big picture, which is this is something we can fight,” Dr. Kopetz stressed.
Despite doctor’s orders, Gregg stuck to his guns.
“If the cancer was more active, I would entertain chemo a lot quicker,” Gregg told pal Cynthia Bailey.
“I’m deciding to really take my life and use it as a mouthpiece for other people,” he said. “I just want to use my life in a way to help someone. So I can say I’m Gregg Leakes and I have cancer, but I will be a survivor.”
NeNe agreed. “I’m very much on the same page as Gregg,” she said. “I’m not sure I would do chemo. We’ve watched chemo destroy people, so it’s not something that he is even interested in.”
“Gregg is definitely on a rollercoaster. His emotions are all over the place. He cries, he’s short patience, he’s frustrated,” she added. “I feel like because he is weak at this moment, he needs someone who is going to be strong, so I feel like I have to be his rock as he has been my rock for so many years”
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By episode’s end, NeNe and Gregg had started already exploring holistic options, including bringing trees that are supposed to help with healing into their home.
“I’m here to do whatever I can to make Gregg heal,” NeNe said. “So Toni Braxton called us and gave us her holistic wellness person to talk to. If someone tells me I need to buy trees, I buy the whole damn forrest. ‘Cause I want my Gregg back. The one I married.”
Not all the suggestions have been good ones, though. “We talk to a few holistic wellness people and sometimes they can sound like the little bird that flew the cuckoo nest,” NeNe joked. “‘Cause they kind of get a little bit weird. ‘Go outside and eat some dirt in the backyard.’ They say all kind of stuff.”
“This is the weirdest one: I need to eat a snake,” Gregg said. “It cured a lady!”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.