BBC presenter Rachel Bland dies two days after she revealed she had only days to live
Bland was an inspiration to many after she spoke openly about her struggle with cancer in the hope that she could help others like her
BBC presenter Rachel Bland has passed away at the age of 40 after battling breast cancer for two years. Her husband, Steve Bland, confirmed the death on Twitter at 11 a.m. on September 5, saying: "Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family. We are crushed but she would want me to thank everyone who took an interest in her story or sent messages of support. You’ll never know how much they meant to her. Steve and Freddie xxx"
Bland was an inspiration to many after she spoke openly about her struggle with cancer in the hope that she could help others like her. The presenter died just a little after 3 a.m.
Steve said in an interview that he has lost his "beautiful girl". He told the BBC: "Rachael’s death has left a huge hole in our perfect little family that we’ll never be able to fill." The couple would have celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary on September 14. The devastated husband continued: "She was an incredibly talented broadcaster as well as a wonderful and much-loved daughter, sister, aunt, niece, wife and, most importantly to her, a mother to her precious little Freddie."
Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family. We are crushed but she would want me to thank everyone who took an interest in her story or sent messages of support. You’ll never know how much they meant to her. Steve and Freddie xxx pic.twitter.com/soq7YHvF9u— Rachael Bland (@Rachael_Hodges) September 5, 2018
"We all take such huge comfort and pride from the amazing and tireless work she has done since her diagnosis to reduce the stigma around cancer and prove that it is possible to live life to the fullest even when facing huge challenges on a daily basis. In the end, even though her body was at its weakest, her voice was at its strongest and most powerful. Rachael was and will always be an incredible inspiration to everyone she met. To us, she was perfect in every way and we will miss her more than words can say. We just ask that everyone respects our family’s privacy as we try and come to terms with losing our beautiful girl."
Rachael's superiors at BBC Radio 5 Live said that it was a "sad day" for the staff and listeners as they spent some time mourning the "talented broadcaster and a beautiful loyal colleague". BBC Radio 5 Live controller Jonathan Wall said: "She turned the final year of her life into the finest year of her life delivering the most important broadcasting I have ever heard about living with cancer, and ultimately facing death because of cancer."
One of Bland's colleagues and friends, Tony Liversey, said: "5 Live’s lost one of its brightest spirits. I’m going into cliché territory now so she’ll be pressing an alarm somewhere, but she was beautiful inside and out. She was such a lovely person. Rachael Bland - presenter, friend to most of us, inspiration to all. Radio 5 Live is broadcasting with a broken heart. We've lost one of our brightest talents."
Rachael was diagnosed with the deadly disease in November 2016 and had gone through months of chemotherapy and lymph node surgery before she discovered that the cancer had spread through her body and the disease was terminal in May 2017. On September 3, she posted a tweet telling all of her fans that she only had days left to live. She tweeted: "In the words of the legendary Frank [Sinatra] - I'm afraid the time has come my friends. And suddenly. I'm told I've only got days. It's very surreal. Thank you so much for all the support I've received. Debs and lozz will continue with the youmebigc podcast. Au revoir my friends."
In the words of the legendary Frank S - I’m afraid the time has come my friends. And suddenly. I’m told I’ve only got days. It’s very surreal. Thank you so much for all the support I’ve received. Debs and lozz will continue with the #youmebigc podcast. Au revoir my friends. 💋💋 pic.twitter.com/DhMurbqMJz— Rachael Bland (@Rachael_Hodges) September 3, 2018
The highly accomplished journalist was first diagnosed after she felt pain in her right armpit and discovered a lump. Her doctor then found another lump and three days after Christmas in 2016, she started her first course of chemotherapy. She underwent a lumpectomy in May 2017 when surgeons found a tumor that was bigger than they anticipated. Rachael also described that this was the "lowest point" in her life.
She told the Daily Mail in an interview: "It was the worst day. Before then, I had focused on 'the cure', thinking that it would then be over. But suddenly it all felt hopeless. We sat in the hospital car park where I sobbed uncontrollably. I told Steve that I was convinced the cancer would get me soon and by the time I got home I was wrecked. I was so distraught that I was hyperventilating." The doctors told her in May this year that the cancer had spread and that it was too late for anything at this point.
She was out in a kids activity farm with some friends and her toddler son Freddie at the time she received the news. Rachael said, while breaking down in a heartbreaking interview with Live 5: "He [the doctor] said, ‘I’m really sorry… it’s the cancer. It’s back, and it’s all in the skin around the chest'. I just got Freddie together, got in the car, two minutes down the road from our house. Luckily Steve was working from home that day. So dashed home as quickly as I could and just all the way home, saying to Freddie 'I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry'."
Rachael had revealed in August that she did not know how long she had left to live but that she knew it was "less than a year". Sadly, she was right.