LONDON, Ohio — Zane and Alicia Beathard kept the gender a surprise for all five of their kids.
Each delivery was a c-section, and every time Zane was the one to deliver the gender news. And, every time, that news has been the same: all boys.
Six years of marriage, and with another on the way, they'll have six kids this spring.
But in the last six months, Zane has been the one in the hospital bed.
And Alicia hasn't had good news to deliver.
“When you get married they say in sickness and in health,” she said. “And that came a whole lot sooner for us than we ever imagined.”
Zane had just turned 39 when he got the diagnosis.
“I was nervous to have that conversation with him just because at that point in time his mind wasn't fully there from being on the medications and everything,” Alicia explained.
The diagnosis: cancer, in his esophagus and stomach.
"I'm like 'did I hear that right?'” Zane said.
Eventually, they would learn it was stage 4.
Alicia is documenting their journey taking a photo before every treatment. He has chemo every two weeks and immunotherapy every six. That’s the treatment plan, for now.
"My role is to be strong for him,” Alicia said.
Behind their fight is an entire community's worth of support.
Zane is a sheriff's deputy at the Madison County Sheriff's Office, serving the community he has always called home.
"We're talking about a deputy that has embraced this challenge and worked so hard, and he still comes to work,” said Madison County Sheriff John Swaney. “He has all our support and the community support.”
Madison County Sheriff John Swaney and Zane's colleagues are hosting a benefit event. Dozens so far are donating their time, resources, and talents -- including a local business, Reagan Productions. It will be held on Feb. 5 at Lake Choctaw Lodge.
“We’re very, very, very grateful and we constantly say never did we imagine that at our age and where we are in our chapter of life right now with having our children and another one did we think that this would be where we are,” Alicia said.
Zane said he was surprised when he learned about the benefit. And as for his gratitude: “it’s just more than I can say.”
The event is being held two days after Zane's next scan is scheduled. And that's when they could learn the next course of action. But a lot remains unknown.
“You know my kids are young and I don't want to be like 'who's that guy on the wall?'" I want to be involved with them and watch them grow up,” Zane said. “I'll do whatever I can to get through it.”
What the Beathards do know, is their will to get through this.
"A lot to live for and keep fighting for,” Alicia said.
So that Zane can get back to being the one at the hospital bedside, welcoming another son -- or for the first time, daughter.
“If it’s a girl oh my goodness,” Alicia said. “Every girl needs her dad, right?”