BBC presenter, Rachael Bland has died at the age of 40 years, almost two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
His family has confirmed he died peacefully at home in the early hours of this morning.
Bland was a familiar voice on Radio 5 Live as a newsreader and presenter, and has won praise for the co-host of You, me and the Big C, a podcast on cancer.
She also documented her battle with the disease on an award-winning blog.
Following the announcement, Rachael, her husband, Steve, said in a statement: “he was a great broadcaster as well as a wonderful and beloved daughter, sister, aunt, niece, wife, and, above all, a mother for his precious little Freddie.”
“We take such huge comfort and pride, the amazing and tireless work that she has done since her diagnosis, to reduce the stigma around cancer and to show that it is possible to live life to the fullest, even when facing huge challenges on a daily basis. In the end, even if his body was at its weakest, his voice was stronger and more powerful.
He describes it as “perfect in every way”, adding: “we will miss her more than words can say”.
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In the month of August, the Cardiff-born broadcaster said she was writing a memoir to leave for her two-year-old son Freddie as a “love letter to my beautiful boy,” whose third birthday, he lost by a few days.
He started his BBC career over 15 years ago as Rachael Hodges and married another BBC journalist Steve Bland in 2013.
As well as appearing on 5 live, he worked as a news presenter for BBC News Channel, BBC World and BBC North-West Tonight.
She was diagnosed with primary triple-negative breast cancer in November of 2016, after they found a lump under his arm.
The speaker began chemotherapy just after Christmas that year, and has had a mastectomy the following July and went into an immunotherapy clinical trial in May, but the cancer had spread too far to be on that treatment.
During his battle, he earned the admiration of his dignified and positive outlook, and for his efforts to give an honest portrait of a cancer on his own podcast – with the slogan “cancer” – and his blog, entitled ” Big C, Little Me.
Rachael has presented to the podcast with fellow cancer patients Lauren Mahon and Deborah James. They spoke with celebrity guests and addressed practical issues, including hair loss, tips for dealing with the finances, and tell your loved ones.
The podcast has reached number one on the iTunes chart on Tuesday – an ambition of Bland, her husband tweeted he had made her “very happy”.
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“The entire sharing process has been very cathartic,” Rachael wrote in an article published Tuesday. “It was a real support to know that people who have found their way to profit, through their treatment, but in a selfish way it has helped me so much.”
But the 40-year-old, also frequently spoke about how his greatest fear was to leave Freddie without a mother.
“I’m not afraid of dying,” wrote The Daily Telegraph in the month of August. “I only fear for those I leave behind. For my dear Freddie… for Steve and our families.”
He added: “Steve and I were not discussing how to cope without me, but we talk about all the things I want him to do with Freddie, when I’m gone.
“It’s quite an emotional man, so I know that he will do a lot of crying. But it is also the most amazing father and go ahead and stay strong for our son of god.”
Bland said that he was looking for a publisher for his memoirs, which he described as “my love letter to my beautiful boy that I hope to leave an imprint of me and my love for him, around him, always.”
In her article published on The Huffington Post, Bland revealed that the book was almost finished. He also said that he was wrapping presents for her son to open each and every birthday until he is 21 years old.
“Personal effects such as my caps lock – so you can see my writing. Or the scent has helped choose for me at the beginning of this year, so that he will remember my smell.”Tributes to the “brave Rachael”
Steve Bland led a tribute to BBC presenter, publishing the news of his death from his Twitter account. He wrote: “We are crushed, but she would want me to thank all those who have an interest in its history or sent messages of support. You will never know how much they mean to you.”
Jonathan Wall, Controller of BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “Rachael was an integral part of the fabric of the 5 live and today is a very sad day for all of us and many of our listeners.
“It was a very good journalist and a good contributor to the faithful of the many. More, has turned the last year of his life in the best year of his life, offering the most important broadcast I have ever heard about living with cancer, and, ultimately, in the face of death because of cancer.
“He made a profound difference to so many lives. We are all so proud of what he has achieved, truly heroic issuer and beautiful wife, the daughter and the mother.”
Among others, to pay homage were broadcaster Dan Walker, Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes and ex-Busted member Charlie Simpson.
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BBC director general Tony Hall said: “Rachael was a popular and inspiring journalist. Everyone has been moved by his courage and his dignity. She will be incredibly missed by his many listeners and the staff of the BBC. Our sympathies go to his family and many friends at this difficult time.”
Tony Livesey, Rachael, colleague and friend, said: “5 Live has lost one of its brightest spirits. I’m going into cliche territory now so that she will be by pressing an alarm somewhere, but she was beautiful inside and out. She was a beautiful person.
“Rachael Bland – presenter, and friend to most of us, a source of inspiration for all. Radio 5 Live, broadcasting with a broken heart. We have lost one of our brightest talents.”
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