Getting a cancer diagnosis at any point in your life can be devastating. Guerdy Abraira, star of Bravo’s the Real Housewives of Miami and event planner, recently faced this reality. She bravely disclosed that she’d been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in March 2023, but thanks to treatment, is now cancer-free. Annually, around 240,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With that in mind, it’s important that the Haitian TV personality show the world glimpses of her journey in the new season of RHOM, with Season 6 recently premiering. She also just celebrated being cancer-free at BravoCon in Las Vegas.
ESSENCE had a chat with the vivacious mother of two (sons Miles, 16, and Liam, 10) and wife (to high school sweetheart Russell) about how her cancer battle affected her and her family, the ways support from loved ones helped her get through it all, and what the future holds for Miami’s finest now that she has a new lease on life.
ESSENCE: What are you starting to appreciate more now that you’ve gone through this health scare?
Guerdy Abraira: I mean, it’s just the tiny little things. Honestly, just being home more. I’m a homebody, but then I’m also able to be out and about, which I was doing a lot when I was doing a lot of my event productions all over the world. I was doing a lot of traveling. So now I’m so much more low-key, chill, and I’m just kind of appreciating that. Last season you see my husband saying, “Hey, you need to pause and do less.” And, you know, “You’re doing enough and you’re doing great, but it’s too much.” And so now I’m really listening to that. It’s nice getting to know me again. Cause I’ve been in bed for eight days at a time every time I had chemo. And it tests your soul really, and your strength. And so that is what led me to just really appreciating just me and being selfish and loving it.
Sometimes it’s difficult for friends and family to know how to show up when you’re going through something like this. What are some ways people have supported you that you actually found helpful and some things that were annoying or frustrating?
I think people think they’re doing the best and like, “You need to drink [or] eat this,” da da da da, and you’re like, “Thank you, I already heard that. I have Google. I know what to do.” And so just the repeat of information. And then people trying to connect you with others who had cancer 25 years ago. And it’s like, yeah, no. I think things are different now. And so, you know, it’s just all the information coming in fast and furious and everyone wants to give you their aspect of it. And it’s just kind of like, you have to tune it out. And I may have come off rude to many, but you know what? Again, be selfish. I gotta do me. Thank you. But no thanks. I’ll learn on my own. I’m gonna research on my own. I’m gonna listen to my doctors. If the natural leaf growing on the thing was gonna cure cancer, I think we would be producing that massively now so please don’t tell me to go eat a freaking tree and that’s gonna cure cancer. But that’s a shout out to my island people. I love that. But you know, mix the science too. We’ll do a little bit of both.
Tell me what support actually was really helpful.
I had a friend who literally dropped off these big buckets of salads for me. And I was able to eat those kinda quickly. So, food drop-offs, flower deliveries were beautiful. I mean, my husband didn’t like the cleanup of all those but just the thoughtfulness behind them, the messages behind them. Just when I was ready to reach out, people being there and picking up the phone and giving me a hug or whatever. Yeah, those were nice.
The focus, rightfully so, is often on the cancer patient. But I find when I speak to some caregivers, they feel in some ways abandoned or overwhelmed. They’re struggling too.
It’s traumatic. And I would check in on Russell and I’d be like, “Hey, can, you can talk to Russell because there’s no way he’s good.” You know? And, and he was actually, because he does this for a living. He’s a captain in the fire department, so he’s a paramedic, medical assistant. That’s what he does. So Russell is a different example, but there’s a lot of people who are like, literally the grandmother who’s like 79 will take care of her daughter or her sister, whoever. And that poor lady doesn’t have not one medical degree.
Russell was able to [get] medical clearance to give me shots at home because he knew how to, so I got a lot of perks and privileges because of his expertise. But I’m telling you, I don’t know what I would’ve done if it was the reverse. I’m gonna take care of my man of course but I mean, it’s gonna be hard to see that weakness to not even be able to walk from bed to bathroom without holding on for dear life. Having to scrub every part of his body. It’s the most amazing thing to see. Love unconditionally, for real, for real. Yeah, I’m gonna hire a caretaker. Like I’m sure many people are at their wits’ end and they don’t have the financial power to do anything different and it’s a mental challenge. And thank God I only went through four [weeks of] chemotherapy. There’s some people going through 22 years, [being] a caretaker. They need therapy. It’s unbelievable.
Were there any ways that going through cancer was challenging to your marriage?
Yes, of course. I’m happy to say that now is a turn of events and we’re great, but when I saw myself so weak and not being able to do the little simple things in life I was thinking like, “How is this man gonna ever find me sexy again?” And it is so stupid because I’m like, I should be worried about me. But I’m like, no, I don’t want this, I don’t want him to say, “Ok, wait, I didn’t marry this.” I was thinking that, but it never happened. And we found our groove back easily after everything when I got healthy again. So now we’re just back even better than we were before and it’s just a deeper foundation. And 28 years later, I never thought it would get any deeper. He showed me a whole other side for the best. The best of the best version of himself.
For any parents out there who have cancer, do you have any tips for helping their kids navigate that?
You gotta go at their pace and you have to be very honest with them. And by the way, I’m such a hypocrite because I didn’t even tell them I had cancer. I had to have Russell do it. Could not utter the words without crying. I chickened out. You have to tell them the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Do not sugarcoat it because them kids know what Google is. And now you’re really in trouble ’cause you got a kid thinking you’re gonna die tomorrow. So you have to be honest and just treat them like an adult and they will appreciate that more than you think. They’re not stupid. My 16-year-old, we told him the stage I had, what’s gonna happen, the surgery, what could happen, the worst case. So he knew everything and it was fascinating to him. And then my 10-year-old was like, “Is it contagious?”
It was very different with them but they never made me feel like I was an outcast. That was important to me. I felt like they would not relate to me and be like, it’s so weird. I don’t know what’s going on. Who’s this person? Because I’m a different person physically. But they never hugged me differently. They even hug me more. It’s very interesting, especially being a boy mom ’cause boys don’t show as much as the girls. But they were very subtle with their additional support for me, physically, mentally, the whole thing. Even coming in to play games with me. “Ok, let’s play cards, mommy.” So all of us on my bed, playing. It’s the best.
Do you have anything on your bucket list that you said you were going to do later but that you’ve decided to do now?
To be honest, we wanted to celebrate our 20th anniversary and do a big party and the whole thing. I didn’t get to do that, so maybe next season. I don’t know if that could be that moment where we say, okay, I want to thank you properly in a way where our relationship [is] symbolically on display in such a way to give appreciation for the love that we have for each other. To be honest, I’m taking it so easy that I’m not thinking that far away cause I’m trying to finish my last round of radiation and then we will celebrate somehow. But I’m a simple person. I may not look like it. I’ve seen so many parties ’cause I throw the best parties and so I don’t need a party to symbolize my inner feelings, you know? So I’m very simple and as long as I’m with him and my kids, mama’s good.
Season 6 of the Real Housewives of Miami airs on Wednesdays at 9/8c on Bravo. Fans can also stream the show the next day exclusively on Peacock.