BBC news presenter Rachael Bland, who was widely praised for the manner in which she fought br*ast cancer, has died aged 40.
Just two days ago the journalist, who had been at the BBC for more than 15 years, bade “au revoir” to her friends, revealing she only had days left to live.
She was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and recorded the You Me and The Big C podcast, following her while she underwent treatment.
Her family confirmed that she had died this morning shortly after 3am. Mrs Bland’s husband Steve told the BBC:
“Rachael’s death has left a huge hole in our perfect little family that we’ll never be able to fill.
“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.
“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.”
A post on Bland’s official Twitter account said: “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”.
Her friend and colleague Tony Livesey said: “5Live’s lost one of its brightest spirits. I’m going into cliche 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.”
In a statement on the social media site on Monday afternoon, she wrote: “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 You Me and The Big C podcast. Au revoir my friends.”
Writing in The Telegraph last month, she told how the cancer had spread around multiple lymph nodes in her upper body, into her skin and liver.
She said: “We still had some hope of holding back the tide for a while, but no one survives metastatic breast cancer long term.
“I’ve not asked how long I have left, because I don’t want a number in my head that I’m counting down to. It’s only ever a best guesstimate – but I’ve got less than a year.”
Colleagues responded with messages of support for the popular presenter, with Juliette Ferrington writing: “Oh my goodness Rachael, sending you a bomb of love, strength and peace. In absolute awe of your courage, determination and willingness to fight every single day. Lots of love,” signing off her tweet with two kisses.
BBC’s cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew, whose own wife Emma was given the all clear after her breast cancer diagnosis, tweeted his thoughts.
He said: “And then reality suddenly bites and perspective gained. This is awful. No words, other than love to you and Steve (husband).”
Bland’s Radio 5 colleague Richard Bacon also offered support on Twitter, writing: “Days. Devastating. Rachael I know saying I’m thinking of you (and our magnificent time together on air, especially all that late night fun) doesn’t change anything.
“But I am and I’m so very sorry. Your podcast has helped change the way people talk about all this. You’re wonderful.”
Comedian Justin Moorhouse, a regular panelist on BBC shows including 5Live’s Fighting Talk, simply wrote: “All the love in the world.”
And fellow BBC journalist Jennie Gow wrote: “You have been such an inspiration both before and now and with everything you have done… forever more.”
Mark Chapman, one of the BBC’s leading sports radio anchors, said: “Oh Rachael. I am so very sorry. What you have done has been amazing and helped so many. Sending so much love to you, Steve and Freddie (son, three).”
Souce: Telegraph UK