It’s official: Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman, 67, has found a new love: Francie Frane, 51, a widow from Colorado. After the June 2019 death of his wife, Beth Chapman, from throat cancer that spread to her lungs, Chapman is smiling again in a photo shared by both on Instagram. “So excited for this new chapter! ❤️” Frane wrote on hers.
And those in the cancer-caregiver community know, the prospect of a second chance at love — or even companionship — after losing a partner to cancer can seem impossible. But managing grief, says Dr. Scott Irwin, Director of Supportive Care Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, means finding a way forward through “a new reality.”
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The pair met by accident when Chapman called Frane’s husband, Bob, about some work on his Colorado home. Frane, 51, had to break the news that Bob had died just months before Beth. The two struck up and conversation and a friendship grew out of their shared loss.
Dog, 67, said, “it’s a God relationship because it’s just like a miracle,” in his Sun interview. “It’s a miracle how we met and it’s a miracle how great we’re getting along.”
Dr. Scott Irwin, Director of Supportive Care Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, says grief can engulf patients undergoing treatment as well as caregivers after a loss.
“I know that when I start to feel bad about Beth and it’s overwhelming, Francie seems to show up and that helps the kids,” Dog said. “And I feel that Beth expects her to show up to take care of me. And Bob, Francie’s late husband, expects me to be a man and a gentleman and so I am.”
“Both of us are allowed to talk about our spouses that are in Heaven,” he continued. “We console each other but we also know that we have a responsibility and that is to do this right. There are a lot of people watching us.”
Frane’s playful spirit comes through in a photo she of ‘Dog’ testing the heavy equipment on her Colorado farm: “Let’s see if we can show this bounty hunting tough guy how to run some equipment, like us country folks do !!” she wrote.
The Family Approves
And the family drama surrounding Dog’s friendship with Beth Chapman’s former assistant, Moon Angell, has faded, replaced by support and joy from daughters Lyssa and Bonnie. “How cute are these two ?! ❤️” Lyssa posted on Instagram.
Her sister, Bonnie, chimed in to quash the few naysayers: “Everyone who’s judging my father should sure hope that they never have to lose their loved one and get judged for trying to fill the void. Your opinion is invalid. My mother would’ve wanted him to be happy. Now please shut up and let my dad live in peace.”
The relationship comes just a few months after speculation surfaced that Dog was dating his longtime friend Moon Angell. His daughter Lyssa openly disapproved of their relationship, and a source told PEOPLE at the time that things weren’t romantic.
Beth Chapman’s Cancer Journey
Beth Chapman was diagnosed with stage 2 throat cancer in 2017 . After initial treatment, she was declared cancer free. But in 2018, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. In 2019, Beth decided to forego cancer treatment, instead of choosing to spend her last months with her family doing what she loved most — catching fugitives.
Beth died at age 51 in Honolulu, surrounded by family members. The Chapman family held two emotional memorial services, one in Hawaii and one in Aurora, Colo. The two locations were where most of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” was shot, and where they often spent their free time.
Dealing Publicly with Grief
Most celebrities have to grapple with their grief in the public eye of course. “Little by little, Day by day” were the words that helped singer Celine Dion as she slowly recovered from the grief of losing her husband to complications from throat cancer. The words became a song called “Recovering.”
René Angélil, Dion’s husband who also managed her music career, also had throat cancer. Dion said Rene was the only man she ever loved and the only man she ever kissed.