Couple Who Incredibly Survived Coronavirus, Cancer, and Chemotherapy

by Duke Magazine

It was a stunning success for Robert and Janice Beecham, the Texas couple who was embattled with cancer, chemotherapy, and the novel coronavirus infection. However, they were able to have the best laughter over their health challenges. Essentially, the solemn vow of “long life and happiness” they took still holds. They said those vows back in 1974, and prior to their 46th wedding anniversary, Robert fell ill. 

“Shortness of breath, loss of appetite, my senses – smelling, taste – I mean, totally gone,” 65-year-old Robert told WFAA. “And then the cough.”

“And it was like I was drowning,” he said.

Ultimately, his son decided to take him to the hospital, Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. Having suffered two strokes with congestive failure, this is a hospital Robert and his family have been frequenting for years.

On the day he left for the hospital with his son, Robert recalled: “I prayed and made peace with God and told him I was ready to come home.”

That was apparently how serious his situation had become, and his wife Janice was also aware of that.

“I was standing in the door watching them as they left,” she told WFAA. “All I could do was whisper a prayer. ‘Lord do what you do best.’ That’s all I could say.”

At Parkland Hospital, doctors tested Robert for the coronavirus before taking him to a room on the hospital’s sixth floor. Robert recalled: “They came back a day or so later in full gear, the gowns, the masks and said, ‘Mr. Beecham, we’re taking you to the third floor.’”

“And I knew then why I was there.”

On the third floor were patients fighting COVID-19. “You hear the sounds of grown people moaning and coughing,” said Robert. “It’s just devastating to hear all that.”

Nevertheless, Robert knew he had to fight to stay alive, and unfortunately do that alone since no visitors were allowed. To make matters worse, Janice had cancer during that moment, and this was one of the many reasons he was determined to go back home.

Janice had started treatment for cancer at one of Parkland’s cancer centers when she received a text message from a drive-through COVID testing location, reports WFAA.

“Your husband has COVID,” she was told. “And I’m like, ‘What?’” she recalled.

“I walked up to one of the ladies at the center and let her read the text. They took me to the back and I just started crying because we are always together. We are never separated. I felt so helpless,” she said.

Janice had always been by her husband’s side in his previous stay at the hospital. This time around, he was being treated at an isolation center, and she felt she could do the same again but then wondered: “What if I have it, too?”

Thankfully, Robert started getting better, and he credits this to Parkland Doctor Satyam Nayak.

Nayak helped Robert come up with a plan for home quarantine, showing him areas of the home where Robert could go and shouldn’t go. With his help, Robert made it home in time to celebrate his 46th wedding anniversary.

Just before he got home, his wife received her diagnosis from the county testing facility, but as she told WFAA, “I didn’t care about being sick at that time, I was too concerned about him.”

Today, the beautiful couple are certain that being home together helped them both heal.

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