Bonnie Chapman Opens Up About Mom Beth's 'Last Moment' of Consciousness: 'She Choked on Her Cancer'
Beth Chapman died at age 51 in June after publicly announcing her stage II throat cancer diagnosis in September 2017
Close to two months after Beth died at the age of 51 following her aggressive cancer diagnosis, Bonnie opened up about her mom’s last moments of consciousness, which she said were vulnerable and sudden.
The 20-year-old also revealed that in the time since the tragedy, her dad Duane “Dog” Chapman has had a difficult time processing everything.
“My dad goes over and over and over what happened because he can’t get it out of his head,” Bonnie told SurvivorNet. “She quite literally choked on her cancer.”
“My mom was naked in the bathroom and told my dad to look at her,” she recalled. “And he goes, ‘I am looking at you.’ And she goes, ‘No, look at me.’ And then she was standing there and she started gasping.”
“And my sister came into the room, and they called 911 immediately,” Bonnie continued. “And that was the last moment that we really saw her completely conscious.”
Bonnie’s recollection was not far off from the one given by her father, who recently revealed to Entertainment Tonight that as Beth prepared to die on June 26, she told him to simply let her go.
“The last few moments she said, ‘Come in here right now, in the bathroom,'” he recounted. “I went in and she said, ‘Look at me.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you’re freaking beautiful baby.’ [And she said,] ‘Look at me, Duane Chapman.’ And I did, I always saw Beth and she said, ‘Please, let me go.'”
Duane continued to ET, “And I didn’t even make a decision, I almost said, ‘I can’t.’ Before I could say, ‘All right,’ she couldn’t breathe and I called the ambulance … But every day, she talked as if she was not there. ‘Here’s what to do with this, here’s what to do with that. Don’t keep running your mouth. When they ask you a specific question, just answer that.'”
In Sept. 2017, Beth was diagnosed with stage II throat cancer, but underwent treatment and eventually entered remission.
A year later, however, Beth’s cancer returned and spread to her lungs, forcing the reality star to undergo chemotherapy — something that Bonnie said her mom was adamantly against and decided to stop after just one round.
“She did try one round of chemo,” Bonnie told SurvivorNet. “And it did not go well for her. She had very severe symptoms.”
“She completely despised it,” she continued. “She despised who she was after that one session. And she had tried [the chemo] because so many people had been telling her, ‘Please, at least try.’ And she didn’t want to disappoint people by not trying it at all, but at the end of the day, she did not want to lose her hair, her teeth…”
“She didn’t want to feel like she was falling apart. She wanted to remain as much ‘Beth’ as possible. Even though when she did pass, she had lost the majority of her hair, she was really happy to still have her smile and still look like Beth,” Bonnie added.
As Beth’s health began to decline, Bonnie said her father was endlessly supportive of his wife and praised him for doing whatever he could to keep her comfortable and happy.
“My dad had a love for her that was constantly growing stronger and stronger,” Bonnie told the outlet. “And it really showed her like, ‘He is really here for me. He is going to take care of me until my very last days.’ It was really nice to see her take comfort in that my dad was always gonna be there.”
“Even as her hair started to diminish, he would tell her that she looked like an Egyptian goddess,” she recalled of Duane. “He just loved her so much, and I’m really proud of him for sticking with her until the very last moments. That’s what she needed.”
“She needed someone who loved her as much as my dad did. You know, I think that she truly feels that love now,” Bonnie added.
After Beth’s passing, the family honored her at a gathering with friends and fans at Fort DeRussy Beach in Waikiki, Hawaii, as well as at an emotional memorial service at the Heritage Christian Center in Aurora, Colorado.
Her cancer journey will also be documented on WGN America’s upcoming series Dog’s Most Wanted, which is set to premiere in just a few weeks.
But as the premiere date approaches, Bonnie said she and her family have had a difficult time grieving and coping with Beth’s loss in the public eye, especially with the new episodes that will feature her late mom.
“Everything we do right now is being publicized,” she told SurvivorNet. “And it’s hard sometimes because we’re trying to keep it together. Right now is the most fragile time of our lives.”
“It’s really hard I’m not gonna lie,” she added to the outlet about revisiting footage of her mom on the upcoming show. “To see new moments of [my mom] that I haven’t seen … it brings back a flood of emotion. It makes me feel like she’s still here, but then I’m brought back to reality, realizing it’s something that happened in the past, not right now.”
Still, she said, her family has been able to find the silver lining in the situation by the outpouring of support they’ve received from their fans.
“The tremendous support has really helped every single member of my family, especially my father. He has been able to kind of cope through everybody else’s experiences,” she told the outlet. “And I can say the same for me, my sisters, and my brother. It’s really nice to meet other people who try to help us through our pain even as they might be going through their own.”
“It’s comforting to know that there are people out there who know what you’re going through,” Bonnie added.
Dog’s Most Wanted premieres on Sept. 4 at 9 p.m. ET on WGN America.