And while the Texas couple have weathered their life with positivity, they want to encourage others with that same message that inspired them to keep going, even when it was tough.
“Sometimes you feel so bad that you feel like all the fight is gone,” Janice tells PEOPLE. “But my grandmother used to say, if you can stand the pull, he’ll pull you through…. Our message today is hope.”
Robert, 65, and Janice, 64, have had a tough 2020 — including Janice being diagnosed with cancer (again) and along with her husband, COVID-19.
The couple’s first test was in 1985 when Janice was diagnosed with breast cancer and then again in 2014 and 2016 — all while Robert suffered a pair of strokes, both in his sleep.
And much like this year’s COVID-19 struggle, both of Robert’s strokes happened around the time of the couple’s anniversary.
“Janice was teasing me and she said, ‘Baby, listen, you’re just doing this because you don’t want to take me somewhere on our anniversary,’” he says, joking. “And I said, trust me, I wouldn’t have strokes and go through COVID to keep from taking you somewhere.”
Once her husband was hospitalized, Janice found out he had tested positive for COVID-19 while at the doctor’s office getting her first chemotherapy treatment.
She then learned that she also tested positive for the virus — though her symptoms were less severe than her husband’s and did not require hospitalization.
In July, Janice wrapped her cancer treatments, and this past Monday underwent radiation treatment but says she’s feeling “great,” even if her sense of taste and smell have yet to return following her COVID-19 diagnosis.
The Beechams say that having each other makes all the difference.
“We just bounce off each other. I mean, we do everything together. And it’s not a bore. She told a friend of hers the other day that if something ever happens to me, I want you to take care of him,” Robert recalls.
“And she said, ‘Well, Janice, you know I will.’ And so I told her, ‘Well, you won’t get a chance to take care of me because we’re going together.’”
Adds Janice: “We can do this. If you need me to hold you up, I’m going to hold you up. When my time comes, you just hold me up. You know? So that way we’ll get through it together.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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