On Sunday’s premiere of Bravo’s ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta,’ NeNe Leakes revealed that her husband Gregg is battling stage 3 colon cancer.
The Leakes family opened up about Gregg’s health struggles earlier this year, but kept what type of cancer he has under wraps until now.
NeNe, 50, explained on the Bravo show that Gregg first experienced symptoms related to the disease in May. “It was Cinco de Mayo,” she said on Sunday’s episode. “Gregg was in excruciating pain. Like, I’ve never seen him say, ‘I’m hurting so bad, the pain is so bad in my stomach.’ And finally he said to me, ‘Take me to the hospital.’ “
It was there that Gregg was diagnosed. He said he had to undergo emergency surgery to have part of his colon removed. “We just weren’t prepared to hear that,” NeNe recalled.
Said Gregg: “I guess the scariest part about all of this is when we got to the hospital and the doctor saying that we need to do surgery on you tonight or you ain’t going to make it.”
Though it was the lowest point for Gregg, he said he was mentally ready to say goodbye. “I went over and prayed to God and I told Him, ‘If it’s time, let’s go,’ ” Gregg said. “‘I don’t fear death, I don’t want to go. If my work here is finished here, take care of them, let’s go.’ “
Sitting with family and close friends in a prayer circle, Gregg also said he had penned NeNe a letter just in case he didn’t survive. “I wrote a note to my doctor and I told him to give it to you if I didn’t come out,” Gregg says, breaking down in tears. “Writing that note was the hardest thing I ever did in my life.”
Luckily, Gregg survived that surgery. And the outcome inspired him for the road ahead. “You never know what’s in you until you at that door,” Gregg said. “I never thought I had it in me to fight cancer. Now, I want to beat cancer’s ass.”
“You have been my light,” Gregg told NeNe. “I couldn’t do this without you. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t even try. So I want to thank you, baby.”
“They cut my colon out, my heart got bigger,” he added. “I don’t need it. It’s gone. It was infected.”
NeNe and Gregg have been married since 1997 and share two sons: Bryson and Brentt. In 2010, the couple separated, then divorced the following year — only to remarry in June 2013 at a ceremony that was filmed for her spinoff, I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding.
Back in September, NeNe revealed that Gregg was doing “really, really good” after a five-hour procedure she said they hoped was his “last surgery towards a full recovery.”
On Sunday’s premiere, she opened up about the emotional challenges of watching Gregg go through this. “It’s a very hard role to take care of someone,” she said. “I feel like if I crumble, then Gregg and Brentt is going to be over. I just feel like I have to be the strong voice.”
As brave as NeNe’s been, she said she’s had her weak periods. “I’ve put on a brave face but I have my moments in my bedroom, usually alone,” she admitted. “I’ve had many moments in my car. If my car could talk it’d be like, ‘This bitch cries too much.’ “
Throughout it all, she’s turned to prayer. “In order to get through something like this, you have to pray for strength… We’re basically going to pray for healing, comfort and understanding,” she said.
“There’s a chance the cancer could come back, but thank God that he caught it when he did catch it,” NeNe continued. “He could not be here.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays at 8pm ET on Bravo.