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Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman and wife Beth – ‘The fight of our lives’

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Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman and wife Beth – ‘The fight of our lives’ (AP file photo)

Duane “Dog” Chapman and his wife Beth, stars of A&E’s reality series “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” invited viewers to join them for eight seasons and 246 episodes of deadly manhunts. 

Considered one of the most successful bounty hunters on the planet, Duane is credited with more than 7,000 captures, including those of Quinton Wortham (The Capitol Hill rapist), Atlanta child murderer Wayne Williams and William Scatarie, convicted of killing Denver-based radio host Alan Berg.

Together for 30 years, Duane and Beth Chapman say they’ve endured the fight of their lives in 2017 following Beth’s August diagnosis of throat cancer.

“I was in Colorado for two weeks,” Beth Chapman told me during my interview with the couple last week. “I took our daughter there for college. For about two weeks, I’d felt this nagging, scratchy feeling in the back of my throat so I decided to get it checked. On that day, my life was turned upside down.”

According to Beth, three days after she had a biopsy, doctors called her husband with the news.

“They told him I had squamous cell carcinoma and a tumor the size of a plum was blocking my throat,” she said. “They offered a choice between radiation and surgery. I couldn’t wrap my mind around any of this.”

Beth’s diagnosis was one that 30,000 Americans hear every year. The most important condition for beating the disease is early detection through screening.

According to Beth, she spent countless hours consulting “Dr. Google” hoping her internet searches would provide her with good news.

“You should never try to get answers for something like this from the internet,” Chapman advised. “You only get the worst-case scenario and try to live with that for a few days. That’s when I realized this could not be my dirty secret. We needed to let our fans know what is going on.”

Duane and Beth both say that their fans have helped them through difficult times before, such as when Duane himself was briefly incarcerated in Mexico following his capture of convicted rapist Andrew Luster, heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune.

“The fans were also with us through the death of my father, the death of our daughter [on the eve of Duane and Beth’s wedding] and the marriage of ‘Baby’ Lyssa Chapman. We share everything with our fans and there was no way we were going to let this unfold in the tabloids.”

In September, A&E executives met with the Chapmans and invited the couple to share their ordeal on the network that made them famous.

“The cameras were there through it all,” Beth said. “From diagnosis to the surgery and recovery process. It was a long journey over the last three months but it’s been worth it.”

Opting for what was to have been a five-hour surgery, Beth ultimately underwent a 13-hour procedure that turned out to be much more extensive.

The two-hour special - “Dog & Beth: Fight of Their Lives” - aired on the channel last week and can be seen now on demand. During the special, Duane received a call outlining the results of Beth’s latest pathology report, revealing no signs of cancer.

“We’re so grateful to the fans,” Duane said, his voice choked with emotion. “When this first happened, I expected her to come up swinging. She didn’t until we shared the ordeal with the fans. They let her know that they were praying for her and I could see her strength and faith grow.”

Duane says that he and Beth saw firsthand the power of faith and patient advocacy when they recently visited a seven-year-old girl undergoing treatment for leukemia in a Virginia hospital.

“She was hugging Beth and she saw Beth’s scars and said ‘Beth, if you can do this, I can do this.’ I was totally (breaks out into tears) … totally in shock.

“It’s like in our years in television,” he continued. “Beth has been an amazing counselor for so many women who have needed advice and guidance. And now people are coming to her and saying ‘I have it too. What do I do?’”

An emotional Duane Chapman says that he feels closer than ever to Beth after going through this ordeal.

“We have faced death together a lot of times but never like this. To combat cancer, you need to have faith. We were both raised in the faith and we sure needed it this time.”

The Chapmans invite fans to contact them through Twitter.

“We do live tweeting with fans,” said Beth. “They can tweet me at @MrsdogC and they can get Duane at @DogBountyHunter. We’re here for our fans. They’re here for me. If this helps just one person to get early detection, the whole thing was worth it.” 

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