When Beth Chapman of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” fame was diagnosed with stage 2 throat cancer in September, she was determined to show the greatest fight of her life in front of millions.
The 49-year-old, along with her husband Duane “Dog” Chapman, chronicled her journey in combating the deadly disease from diagnosis to surgery in a two-hour A&E special titled “Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives.”
Beth and Dog, 64, spoke to Fox News about chronicling their war with cancer, how faith helped them survive and what the future holds for their bounty hunting business:
Fox News: What compelled the both of you to open up about a private battle with throat cancer for this TV special?
Beth Chapman: We just share everything with our fans. And this wasn’t something that you could keep secret. It wasn’t going to be an easy battle by any means.
And so, after doing a lot of research about it, I just felt that being open and honest with our fans, who’ve been so loyal to us for so many years, was the best thing to do. There are literally hundreds of fans that contact me on a day-to-day basis that say, ‘I watch you every day while I’m doing my radiation.’ ‘I’m watching you every day while I do chemo.’ And those words just didn’t resonate as they should have, or as they do now.
Because you just can’t appreciate that fight until you’re in it yourself. So I just wanted to basically let them see that they are not alone... You can’t let it overtake your brain. You can’t become desperate and alone. You’ve gotta fight your way through it, maintain a positive attitude and surround yourself with people who are going to help you get through it.
Fox News: How determined were you to fight this cancer?
Beth: Listen, the first week all you think about is death. You think of how long do you have, what can you accomplish in that short time, you WebMD it, you contact Dr. Google – and all of those places are the wrong places to seek information, honestly. It took quite a quite a few people. Friends, my husband, who is amazingly positive all the time. And he doesn’t utter negative words.
So after the first week, my mind shifted from death to life. And how I was going to survive, how I was going to make it… I was going to need love and encouragement.
Fox News: Dog, how did you cope with Beth’s diagnosis?
Dog Chapman: You don’t cope with it. You face it… Beth said, ‘I’m going to show people how you beat this.’ So right when she said that, my job was to stand behind her and beside her. And I tried to do my job extremely well over the years and I’m trying to do my job even better today.
Fox News: What was the most difficult moment for the two of you to film and why?
Beth: I would say when I first saw the scar after the surgery. That was probably the worst. When you realize you have a seven-inch scar basically ear-to-ear across your throat. I think that puts your whole life right there in perspective.
I hate [the scar]. It’s horrible. I’m very self-conscious of it. But you know, I’m alive to be self-conscious. I’m alive to hate it. I’m alive to see it. A scar is just a battle wound. Death is forever.
Fox News: How difficult was it to choose between radiation and surgery?
Beth: It took me a week to really go through all the pros and cons. But I will tell you that when it came to the radiation, the doctor didn’t help his cause. He really couldn’t look at me in the eye. He looked away constantly. I am a profiler for a living. That is what I do, I’m able to read people and I can read when they’re lying and I couldn’t believe anything he said. Nothing. He gave me no warm, fuzzy feelings. He gave me no sense of compassion. He gave me no sense of security whatsoever.
I think at that point, you go for the surgery and you hope they can get it all… It did not make sense for me to destroy a lot of the organs, tissues and cells that I already have living in my body when I have a chance of going to surgery and getting rid of it all right there. I put my faith in the surgeon, not the radiologist.
Fox News: How has faith played a role in helping the both of you face this diagnosis?
Dog: Faith is probably the number one thing in our lives, no matter what we’re faced with... Through this cancer episode, we had to drum up as much faith as we could. And the bible talks about having faith as small as a mustard seed. And that’s not much… And I thank God that we had at least that much faith to get her through that.
Fox News: How has Beth’s fight impacted the way you view her or feel about her?
Dog: I always knew that she was tough. Physically, emotionally and mentally. I just can’t believe it. I am still in shock. I can’t believe that it happened to her. I can’t believe she handled it so [well]. She was up and out of there so quick... And a lot of people give up. I’m one of those people. And she taught me, by her strength, that you can’t give up. You’ve got to fight until the last breath.
Fox News: Beth, how are you feeling today?
Beth: I feel pretty good. I get tired easily. My voice gives out after a certain amount of time. It’s a slow process to come back, but I try to keep my stress level very low. I try not to get upset about anything. But mainly… [I’m] thankful that I can talk for any amount of time. That I can still see my children.
Fox News: What’s the future for the bounty hunting business?
Beth: We’re just taking it day-by-day. We’ve gotten a reality check on life and life is short. The world is a dangerous place right now. Folks do not have very much respect for law enforcement. They definitely don’t have respect for our courts and our jurisdiction system. So we’re taking it day-by-day, but a lifestyle change is in order.
"Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives" premieres Monday, November 27 at 9 p.m. on A&E.