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Tamra Judge And Ex-Husband Simon Barney Say His Cancer Diagnosis Brought Their Fractured Family Together!

After Simon Barney revealed that he has been diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer, the former Real Housewives of Orange County husband that his health battle has united his fractured family — including his ex-wife Tamra Judge.

“It’s kind of like a new beginning for me and my family,” he told PEOPLE. “It’s really brought everyone closer together.”

Barney has also seen an increase in contact with Ryan Vieth, Judge’s son from a previous relationship.

“The kids were split after the divorce and chose sides but, at the end of the day, none of that matters,” Judge says. “All we have to do is rally together to make it through this.”

Barney told Judge about his diagnosis back in November, the two meeting at a local Starbucks.

“The kids were going to see me getting treatment, and I wanted her to kind of know what’s going on,” Barney explains.

After learning what Barney is going through, Judge broke down. “Honestly, I’ve never seen him like that. He told me the news and we both literally started crying. I just couldn’t believe it,” she recalls. “My first thought was, ‘I don’t want to take my kids to their dad’s funeral,’ and immediately, any ill feelings between the two of us just vanished.”

Simon's cancer diagnosis has brought him and ex-wife Judge in a better place.

“When I told Tamra, she said she cried for like, two or three days,” Barney says. “Things changed with our relationship from there, in a good way. We’re getting along in ways we haven’t in years.”

“Our conversations now are so different than they were before,” adds Judge. “Before there was always such hate behind them. Not that we would always say nasty things towards one another, but we both came from a place of hate. And now we’re coming from a place of concern. It just put everything in perspective and helped us remember of that other s— means anything.”

“We’re just talking more, especially with our youngest one, to make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to how to take her through this situation. I’ll say, ‘What do you think of this? I tell her this,’ and Tamra will go, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea, I’ll tell her that too.’ We never would have done that three, four years ago,” he says.

The former couple revealed that they took their kids to therapy, Judge says, to talk through how to emotionally handle the ups and downs that come with a cancer battle.

“We wanted to find a way to get them through this the best way possible,” Judge shares. “We were making sure that our kids are taken care of.”

So how did their children handled the news?  Sophia, the more reserved of the three, has been supportive, Barney says, but mostly “doesn’t want to talk about it” and “doesn’t want to see me sick.”

Sidney, on the other hand, has been checking in a lot. But Barney is “really protecting her” while she’s away at school, Judge says, “making sure she doesn’t get distracted.”

“She said, ‘Do you want me to get out of school and come home and help you?’ and I said, ‘Absolutely not! You’re staying in school. That’s not going to happen,’ ” Barney told PEOPLE.

Spencer took the longest to reach out to Barney. “He wanted to know specifics first, he’s more an old soul,” Judge says. “So he wanted to know where he’s going to be treated, who his doctor is. He’s just very clinical about it.”

“He finally reached out to me the other day and just said, ‘Sorry, Dad. I just had to get a hold of it,’ ” Barney says. “It’s good because, I haven’t really talked to him in a while. But we’re getting there now.”

Tamra has also bonded with Barney’s fiancée of nine years, Catushia Ienni.

“Tamra’s become close with my fiancée,” says Barney. “They text each other almost every day, which at first I was very uneasy. Like, ‘Okay, what are they saying? Is she telling her to get rid of me?’ But they’re really both just taking care of me.”

“It’s funny, because now Tamra’s concerned about Catushia, making sure she’s getting enough sleep, that she’s not too stressed out,” Barney adds. “Catushia has been such a great support to me throughout all of this. And the other day, Tamra brought me soup from a restaurant to see if I could eat — because it’s very hard to find anything to eat — and she had soup for Catushia too.”

“I’m just so grateful he has her by his side,” Judge says, of Ienni. “I told her, ‘Thank God you’re here. I know we’ve had our differences, but I just want you to know I’m here for you too.’ “

“That’s what I’ve always wanted,” he continued. “My fiancée, the same thing, she’s always wanted that with my ex-wife, for the kids. The kids would prefer it if we all got along. And they see that now, and it’s had such a powerful effect.”

Barney reveals how he handled the news when he was diagnosed with the disease. “Things always happen for a reason, so when I was diagnosed, the first thing I asked myself was, ‘Why is this happening? What is it you’re doing wrong,’ ” Barney told PEOPLE. “And I took a good look at myself and my life and I realized, I was working 12-hour days, stressing about everybody, and never really doing stuff for me. So now, I’m focusing on the things that bring me joy, like my family.”

“People don’t usually change the way they are, but when you experience an emotional jolt like cancer, you make the shift pretty quick,” he says.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Simon Barney via PEOPLE