Peggy Sulahian is setting the record straight: yes, she did have breast cancer.
The Real Housewives of Orange County star’s diagnosis confused her co-stars this season, as Peggy regularly alternated between saying she had “abnormal cells” to full-blown cancer.
“The reason they’re very confused is because ... they wanted to interrogate,” Peggy tells ET. “I did have it. So when you’re questioning it, you’re still not understanding what I’m telling you.”
Peggy says she and her husband, Diko, avoided using the word “cancer” as much as possible in order to downplay the seriousness of her condition. They did not want to scare their three children or extended family, even after Peggy underwent a double mastectomy. The 44-year-old reality star says people who question her diagnosis simply don’t know the scope of her story.
“When I say this happened, this happened,” Peggy says. “You need to know all the obstacles I had gone through.”
“My father passed away two weeks prior to my cancer [diagnosis],” she shares. “They wanted to push me into surgery and he didn’t even know about it. He was in the hospital and all of a sudden, he started to, like, go bad and one thing led to another. I had to bury him, [then] get into surgery.”
“So much happened in those 30 days, 60 days with my health [and] with his situation,” she continues. “I don’t even know what happened … I haven’t processed it. I haven’t even processed my cancer, let alone my dad’s death, because that was really hurtful and one year hasn’t even passed.”
Peggy’s mother died from breast cancer when Peggy was just 21 years old. While Peggy tested negative for the genetic marker for breast cancer, known as the BRCA test, she went forward with the double mastectomy after three millimeters of cancerous cells were found in her breast. Peggy tells ET the cells grew by more than 25 percent between when the doctor initially found them to her next appointment, a growth she describes as “aggressive.” That’s why she chose the extreme measure of a double mastectomy.
“I remember being at the doctor’s office, like, ‘What am I doing here? How did it get so far?’” she recalls. “Like, I didn’t even notice me coming and talking [about this], because [my dad] was in the hospital.”
“It was too much,” Peggy says. “It was way too much. So when [my friends] do ask me, that’s when I feel internally like, did I? Did I not?”
Peggy buried her father, underwent the double mastectomy and started filming Real Housewives all in a matter of weeks of each other -- a “whirlwind,” to her.
"All through the process of filming, I had expanders, I was in pain ... I was taking medication [on the Iceland trip] for my pain that the doctor, of course, prescribed ... nobody asked [if I was OK]."
Today, the star is cancer-free and extremely happy with her decision to undergo the procedure.
“Thank God I don’t have it,” she says. “I don’t want to say [I’m in] remission. I didn’t take chemo. I fought it … Chemo, I’ve been through it with my mom, and I said, ‘Just get rid of it.’ I said, ‘I’m not dealing with it. Get rid of it. I’m done.’ I took that drastic measure because I saw what my mom went through. It was difficult and hard.”
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.