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They've been married for 46 years and have survived COVID, cancer, and chemo together

They've been married for 46 years and have survived COVID, cancer, and chemo together

Robert and Janice Beecham missed two of their wedding anniversaries because of cancer. When a doctor found out Robert was about to miss a third one, he couldn't let that happen.

Robert and Janice Beecham married each other on April 15, 1974. When they took their vows to stay together no matter what, in sickness and in health, they were quite serious. Together, the married couple has been through cancer, chemotherapy, and now, coronavirus—all in the past 46 years. After spending almost five decades with each other, Robert and Janice know a thing or two about sticking together even when times get tough. For those struggling with being home with their loved ones all the time right now, their story is one to learn from. They spoke with Good Morning America about their love story.



 

 

Their marriage was tested twice: once in 2014 and again in 2016 when Robert suffered a stroke. He was in the hospital during two of their wedding anniversaries. In late February this year, he was just about to miss a third anniversary as he was diagnosed with the coronavirus. He found himself dealing with phlegm "as thick as paint" and losing his sense of taste. He had terrible chills as well. As their 46th anniversary approached, he was hospitalized yet again. Robert said, recalling the experience, "The night [before I was diagnosed], I prayed because I was so sick. I told God I was ready to come home."



 

 

Janice was dealing with her own health issues at the time too. She had just undergone surgery for breast cancer and was about to receive her first chemotherapy treatment when she was informed that Robert had tested positive for the virus. When she tried to see her spouse, the medical staff informed her that it would not be possible to do so due to health and safety protocols. "I started crying hysterically because I was like, 'I got to get to this man,'" she shared. "I was trying to explain to them, 'I've always been there for him through everything.' I didn't want him alone." But thankfully, Robert was not alone. He was being treated by Dr. Satyam Nayak, a hospitalist at Parkland Health and Hospital System. He is also an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.



 

 

Robert went on multiple walks around the tactical care unit with Dr. Nayak. Soon enough, they developed a bond. Robert then confided in him. He said, "I told him, 'It's not fair. My anniversary is coming up and I'm in the hospital again.'" Dr. Nayak said of the couple's relationship, "You could close your eyes and the way they talk about each other, you could feel the love." After a week in the hospital, Robert's condition was improving. So, the doctor decided to speak with his team and arrange a way to get his patient back home in time for his wedding anniversary. The plan included having Robert self-quarantine in the Beechams' spare bedroom. They also had a window that faced the outdoor patio, where Janice could sit and talk to her husband.



 

 

Robert called Dr. Nayak to thank him for making it possible for him to go home in time for his wedding anniversary. The doctor said of the phone call, "My wife and I were sitting in the car. We go into tears because, especially as a physician, we always see patients at their worst times, and it was one of those moments where I got to hear him at his best times with his wife celebrating his anniversary." Meanwhile, Janice was overjoyed to have her husband back home. "I was so glad to see him, my heart was happy," she stated. "When you're together all the time, it's hard when someone is not there. Tomorrow is not promised but I thank God that our tomorrow is a promise for us."



 

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