Earlier this year, Beth and Duane "Dog" Chapman learned Beth had throat cancer, a diagnosis that shook them to their very core and changed everything for their family going forward. After Beth underwent a 13-hour surgery to have a Stage II tumor removed in September, the two are stepping away from something near and dear to their hearts: bounty hunting.
The Chapmans once again opened up their lives up to cameras for A&E's "Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives," a two-hour special, premiering on Nov. 27, which follows Beth from "diagnosis through surgery and her journey to recovery." TooFab spoke with them both ahead of the debut, with Beth giving an update on her health and Dog revealing some of the changes in store for his professional life.
"I'm lucky to be sharing Thanksgiving with my family, and I'm lucky to be here for these holidays," Beth told TooFab. "You take it day by day and you don't try to take on more than you can handle. I've tried to cut stress seriously out of my diet. It really does bad things to you. My voice is not strong all the time, it comes and goes sometimes and sometimes it just stops."
"It was a very scary situation," she continued. "It was hard to wake up every day and know you still have it, it's still in your body, cancer is alive and well inside me and that wasn't a good place to be. I had a hard time sleeping, I would wake up and just look at him sleeping thinking, 'How is he ever going to make it without me? How will he find his car keys.' He doesn't think about those things."
The special pulls no punches, highlighting the reality of the diagnosis for their entire family. Though at times heartbreaking, Beth saw it as a chance to spread some hope and encourage others to take action.
"I think the real reason why we shared it is because our fans have lived through a lot of stuff with us. Dating way back to 2003 when my husband caught Andrew Luster, to 2005 when they tried to extradite him back to Mexico, the death of my father, the death of my daughter, our wedding, baby Lyssa's wedding, they've been our fans through thick and thin and this wasn't something you could hide, this wasn't like a family breakup or family riff, this was something far more serious that could have had fatal ramifications," she explained. "You can't hide it. I felt like our fans have been so loyal to us that we really owed it to share it with them, so that if I could be a blessing to even one person, help one person get early detection, then we really owed it to them to show the struggle and show that you can make it, you can get through it, you just need to have a positive attitude."
That positive attitude helped them get through a tough time, but cutting out the negativity and stress going forward also meant separating themselves from the bounty hunting business.
"Times have changed. We live in a different world. People have a different respect for law enforcement, which is quite saddening," Beth said. "A lot of people do not have a respect for the judicial system and it is causing a slight collapse of our society. I feel like, even though I had a 50/50 chance with this surgery, Duane has a 50/50 chance every time he leaves the house and that contributes to my stress."
She continued, "Will he come home alive every day that he leaves? There is a completely different mood in our country these days. There's a big movement out there that people are trying to push the fact that people are in jail because they're poor. People are not in jail because they're poor, brother, they're in jail because they broke the law. That way of thinking could get law enforcement killed, it could get my husband killed. In going through something as traumatic as what we just went through, for me a lifestyle change is in order."
"I don't know that he's looked for a job in the past 40 years, but we gotta change because we need longevity," she added with a laugh. "We have small children, we have people counting on us. It doesn't mean that our stance on the criminal justice system has changed, it means that we may want to change."
Dog explained that he'd still like to work in law enforcement in some way.
"I would hope that whatever I did people could profit and get happy about it. I like to see, laugh and cry when it's in a good way. I don't know," he said. "For 40 years, I've done bounty hunting. I think it'd have to be something in law enforcement. It's just amazing, we're taking it day to day, it's amazing she's alive. We're so glad that people prayed to God, there's a God. I made some deals with him this time. I made some good deals. I just thank God he's still with us."
"Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives" premieres on November 27th at 9pm ET/PT on A&E.