September 05, 2018
BBC journalist blogged about treatment for breast cancer after 2016 diagnosis
Rachael Bland, host of cancer podcast You, Me and the Big C, dies at 40
Rachael Bland, the BBC presenter who documented her treatment for cancer in a chart-topping podcast, has died aged 40, her family has confirmed.
The journalist, who worked on Radio 5 Live and North West Tonight, was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2016 and began blogging about her experience as a patient, later drawing on it to produce the BBC series You, Me and the Big C.
In a statement, Bland’s husband, Steve, described her as “perfect in every way”. He said: “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.”
“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. At the end, even though her body was at its weakest, her voice was at its strongest and most powerful.
“We will miss her more than words can say.”
The podcast, co-presented with Deborah James and Lauren Mahon, dealt with various issues surrounding cancer. Its frank, chatty style proved to be a hit, and medical experts and celebrity guests appeared on the programme.
“We wanted to create a space where you feel like you’re sitting down with girls like you, having a cup of tea, talking about it like it’s EastEnders,” Rachel Bland told the Observer this year. “Because when you have a conversation about it, you normalise it.”
Bland continued to present the news on 5 Live during the initial stages of her treatment and said she found that working in a newsroom was relatively relaxing – and she much preferred “being ‘Rachael the news presenter’ than ‘Rachael the cancer patient’”.
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When her cancer became terminal in early 2018 her hopes were pinned on an experimental treatment as part of a medical trial. However, she later learned that the cancer had spread further and she would have one last summer with her three-year-old son, Freddie.
Rachael Bland, host of cancer podcast You, Me and the Big C, dies at 40
Her podcast continued to attract fans and it topped the iTunes chart this week after Bland described the “very surreal” experience of learning that she had only days left to live.
In an article for HuffPost UK shortly before her death, Bland wrote: “When you are in my position – knowingly approaching the end of your life at just 40 years old, with a husband you adore with all your heart and a three-year-old son you love so much that if you looked at him too long your heart could burst – you need two major things to get you through. Hope. And denial.”
She said she had spent much of her final months writing a memoir for her son. “It’s a collection of all those stories your parents tell you over the years from their point of view, mixed in with all the advice they give you. I’d only known Steve for such a short period of time before we married – I feel there’s so much he needs to know from my point of view and in my voice. And I think I best get my personality down on paper.”
She said she had struggled to “release all my feelings about leaving my precious, beautiful Freddie behind.
“The main thing is that, while he’s so young, I want him to remember me in some way. I hope the book and these gifts and notes will leave an imprint of my love behind for the rest of his life. So he can be sure how very much I love him.”
Bland previously said her podcast co-hosts, whose cancers are in remission, would continue the show in her absence.
BBC Radio 5 Live’s Twitter account described her as a “treasured colleague” who “inspired so many”.
In an article for HuffPost UK shortly before her death, Bland wrote: “When you are in my position – knowingly approaching the end of your life at just 40 years old, with a husband you adore with all your heart and a three-year-old son you love so much that if you looked at him too long your heart could burst – you need two major things to get you through. Hope. And denial.”
She said she had spent much of her final months writing a memoir for her son. “It’s a collection of all those stories your parents tell you over the years from their point of view, mixed in with all the advice they give you. I’d only known Steve for such a short period of time before we married – I feel there’s so much he needs to know from my point of view and in my voice. And I think I best get my personality down on paper.”
She said she had struggled to “release all my feelings about leaving my precious, beautiful Freddie behind.
“The main thing is that, while he’s so young, I want him to remember me in some way. I hope the book and these gifts and notes will leave an imprint of my love behind for the rest of his life. So he can be sure how very much I love him.”
Bland previously said her podcast co-hosts, whose cancers are in remission, would continue the show in her absence.
BBC Radio 5 Live’s Twitter account described her as a “treasured colleague” who “inspired so many”.
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