Former Real Housewives of Orange County star Tamra Judge first spoke publicly about her experience with melanoma back in 2017. Now, in a new interview with Us Weekly, Judge reflects on her diagnosis and reveals that she wasn’t the first person to notice her skin cancer.
Judge first noticed the mole on her butt that was later diagnosed as melanoma when a massage therapist pointed it out to her, she said in the interview. She had some downtime while filming RHOC in 2017, she explained, so she decided to get a massage. The massage therapist told her, “Oh, you have this little tiny black dot” and urged her to get it checked out, Judge recalled.
“I probably would have never, ever even knew it was there because I am not turning around and looking back there,” Judge said in the interview. “It didn’t hurt. There was nothing, it wasn’t raised. There was no reason for me to think there was something wrong.”
A few months later, Judge had a dermatologist appointment and pointed out the black dot. Her dermatologist biopsied it and diagnosed it as melanoma about a week later. Judge said her skin cancer was “very treatable,” but that getting the diagnosis was still emotional. She “started bawling” when she received the news, and had to process the idea that, “OK, my body is failing me. I actually have melanoma,” Judge explained.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Melanoma is not the most common form of skin cancer, but it is more dangerous than some other types of skin cancer because it’s more likely to spread to other parts of the body, the American Cancer Society (ACS) explains. It can be especially deadly for Black women, who may have a harder time getting access to affordable and quality health screenings and treatment, SELF explained previously.
Previously, Judge posted a photo of her melanoma on Instagram, highlighting just how small and innocuous-looking some skin cancers can be. Judge’s situation is also a reminder that skin cancer can appear in places we don’t regularly see but still get plenty of sun exposure, including your back, shoulders, and butt.
It’s important to regularly check your skin for signs of skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says, including areas that may be hard to see. In fact, the AAD specifically recommends checking your back and butt with a hand mirror. If you have a history of skin cancer or suspicious moles, your doctor may recommend regular screenings with a dermatologist.