Cindy Barshop
(Photo by Steven A Henry/FilmMagic)

Cindy Barshop ‘Had to Relearn Even Basic Things’ After Brain Cancer

Real Housewives of New York alum Cindy Barshop dealt with some very heavy issues after leaving the show. The Completely Bare owner starred on the hit reality TV show during its fourth season but chose not to return.

Perhaps Cindy made little impact during her reality TV tenure, but her courage and strength in the face of a frightening real world diagnosis is well-worth noting.

“No one is okay after chemotherapy,” Cindy said

In April 2022, Cindy was diagnosed with Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma (CNS lymphoma). With this particular disease, malignant cells invade brain and/or spinal cord lymph tissue.

Cindy endured headaches for months, but assumed they were stress-related. However, the entrepreneur exclusively told People that an incident during a flight home aroused suspicions of deeper issues.

While returning home from St. Barts in 2022 with her twins Zoe and Jesse, Cindy was prohibited from boarding the flight. The airport crew believed her to be intoxicated.

“I was drinking a beer, it was no big deal,” Cindy told the news publication. “All of a sudden, the airport security came over to me and said, ‘You’re not allowed to leave, you’re not acting appropriately.’ I didn’t even know what I did. But they thought I was off. It was the weirdest thing.”

Cindy had to wait a day before traveling

Cindy returned to the airport the next day and was cleared to travel. But the laser spa owner had another incident just a few days later at a charity event with her fiance, Jay Cardiello.

“I was eating my fish with my fingers, then I passed out. Everyone thought I was drunk,” Cindy revealed. Her fiancé immediately took her to the emergency room.

Four days later, she was diagnosed with CNS lymphoma. It has a five-year survival rate of 30 percent.

“I was shocked by the diagnosis,” Howie Barshop, Cindy’s brother said. He also spoke of caring for his niece and nephew at the time.“ They were devastated. They went to bed not knowing if their mom was going to die.”

“She really couldn’t do much other than go to the hospital for her treatments then come home and sleep,” Howie added. “That, in itself, was a full-time job.”

Cindy’s course of treatment included 15 different medications and four rounds of chemo. But after it all, tests show that the reality TV star beat the cancer.

However, Cindy was advised to undergo an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant. It involves a more intense dose of chemotherapy. It roots out any potential issues, but leaves the body exhausted.

Cindy suffered during treatment

“I was so sick after it. My body was worn out,” she revealed. “I couldn’t stand or even sit up because they had done so much chemo in such a short period of time. I was bloated and nauseous all of the time. I gained 40 pounds and just felt horrible.”

“It was a horrific situation because my brain wasn’t functioning at full capacity,” Cindy added of the cognitive issues she suffered as a result of the chemo. To this day, the former RHONY star visits an NYU psychiatrist who drills her on exercises for memory and cognition.

Cindy credited her twins’ “positive attitudes” and “endless love” for getting her through the “agonizing pain” that flipped their words, “upside down overnight.” She said, “they rose to the occasion and handled every aspect with kindness and compassion. Their hundreds of kisses and hugs made me want to heal and get better.”

Come February 2023, Cindy was recovered enough to return to work full-time. She is using her personal experience with female issues post-chemotherapy to help others.

“I hate to say it, but no one is okay after they go through chemotherapy. You have to work your body to be super healthy again, and that’s internally too,” she said of early menopause, vaginal dryness, and lack of desire. “Once you’re alive, you need to be happy to get healthier and feel better about yourself.” 

Life after cancer

Life post-cancer is its own grueling round of doctor visits, MRI’s, and blood tests. According to Cindy, the work is “never done.”

“Everyday I feel better, everyday I feel smarter and more aware and on point. I know I’m going to be back to where I was,” she stated.

Cindy is using her platform and her spas to help women feel their best.

“I just know deep within my soul that there is a reason this happened. I am here to help women through their pain and challenges and help them feel more comfortable in their skin,” the former RHONY said.

Catch the Real Housewives of New York Sundays 9/8c on Bravo.