When things get especially difficult during cancer, families sometimes find ways to come together, even if they hadn’t before. After TV bounty hunter Beth Chapman, 54, was put in a medically induced coma during her journey with cancer, her daughter Bonnie Chapman, 20, is by her mom’s side and holding her hand through it all.
In her most recent Instagram post, Bonnie wrote, “I’m so thankful to call you my mother,” alongside a photo of the mother and daughter’s hands clasped on a hospital bed, Beth’s nails bejeweled as always, and her hand hooked up to a tube. On Beth’s wrist are a two hospital bracelets, presumably from the Honolulu hospital where she currently resides in a coma which was induced by doctors to reduce her suffering.
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Bonnie also tweeted the photo, writing “Love you [heart]” in the caption.
Love you ???? pic.twitter.com/3PcSlxOfMv
— Bonnie Chapman (@Bonniejoc) June 26, 2019
After Chapman was transported by ambulance from her home in Honolulu to the nearby hospital ER, she was in a lot of pain and required oxygen, according to the website TMZ. While doctors tried to treat her, Beth began yanking out the lines that were supposed to give her fluids and medication, so Beth’s doctors decided to lightly sedate her.
But when mild sedation proved not to be enough and Beth was still agitated, according to TMZ, they decided a medically induced coma was necessary before they could properly care for her.
Beth was diagnosed with throat cancer several years ago and underwent successful surgery. But the cancer later returned and is apparently in other parts of her body. At an important address she gave this Mother’s Day at the Source Church in Bradenton, Florida, Beth told the assembled parishioners that this time, she would be foregoing chemotherapy.
Bonnie was just coming into her own as a pansexual when she came face to face with her beloved mother’s Stage 4 lung cancer. Her decision to be by her mom’s side while her mom fights cancer in an induced coma comes after she initially expressed that she didn’t really want to head back to Hawaii, and had some of her own anxieties and fears about the place where her family lived— anxieties she’s said in the past were rooted in her mother’s illness.
Bonnie (who was believed to be in Colorado) wrote of her home in Hawaii, where the close-knit Chapman clan is based: “Everyone I know is so excited to go back to the islands, meanwhile I’ll do anything not to return.” She added a “palms up,” questioning emoji to the end of the tweet.
At the time, Bonnie’s supporters appeared to refer in the comments to her pain surrounding her mother’s cancer. We know that Beth’s disease has been at the core of Bonnie’s pervasive stress since her mother’s tragic diagnosis. In 2017, Bonnie shared with her fans how devastating she found it as her mother embarked on her cancer journey:
“Two weeks later, the most heartbreaking news hit me, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Balancing my already overflowing emotions, and college classes was difficult. My depression was at its all time high. Stress levels seemed to just keep raising, and even though I had only one exam; stress radiated off of everyone on campus. From all this, I learned so much. I don’t regret anything, life is too short to regret things anyways. I was able to love myself, and gain confidence. The beginning of last year I had gotten my first tattoo, and now I’m up to 3.”
Replying to a question from “BerthaBoo” asking “Why is that?” regarding Bonnie’s aversion to Hawaii, Bonnie wrote “Traffic, too many people and I just had overwhelming anxiety there.”
“Anxiety sucks, I know what you mean. I live in a small village without any public transportation and only necessary shops,” BerthaBoo replied.
Another follower replied to the thread with supportive comments, telling her to pursue what makes her happy. “Sweetie you do what is best for you. I’m sure you are all going through a lot considering. But just follow your heart.best of luck in all that you do.”
As Bonnie herself has noted, being the child of a cancer patient can be really difficult, and navigating family relationships during that time extremely hard. Still, Bonnie seems to have always responded with openness and questioning, and has returned to her mom’s side when she felt it mattered most.
Information about palliative care
At its most basic definition, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines palliative care as “an approach to care that addresses the person as a whole, not just their disease.” It’s a type of care that’s meant to address the symptoms and side effects that your cancer or its treatment may cause, ranging from psychological experiences like stress and fear to physical experiences like pain and discomfort.
A lot of people misunderstand what palliative care actually encompasses, assuming that it’s only related to making people comfortable at the end of their lives. But palliative care has so much more to it.
“Palliative care is a team of health care providers … who are focused on symptoms management and the comfort of patients,” says Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “They can also help facilitate important family conversations, and help illicit from patients needs related to their quality of life.”
Dr. Comen also pointed out that a palliative care team can be brought in for people who have both curable and incurable diseases. The goal is to help people feel and live better – and studies have shown the benefits of getting a palliative care team on-board early on after a diagnosis.