LIFESTYLE
05/09/2018 11:05 BST | Updated 05/09/2018 13:19 BST

BBC Presenter Rachael Bland Has Died Of Cancer Aged 40

'We are crushed but she would want me to thank everyone.'

BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Rachael Bland died shortly after 3am this morning surrounded by her family.

The 40-year-old’s husband Steve and son Freddie, 3, co-signed a message on her personal Twitter page. 

“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.”

In a statement to the BBC, her husband Steve said: “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.”

The family also asked for their privacy to be respected while they come to terms with their loss. 

Rachael Bland

Rachael was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2016 after finding a lump under her arm. She underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy before having surgery at the start of 2018. In May she was informed the disease was incurable.

Last week Rachael wrote a blog for HuffPost UK talking about facing her terminal diagnosis. She said: “I’m too scared to ask the doctors how long I’ve got left – it would be a guesstimate number that would hang over me. So we make plans, knowing it’s not very long.”

Speaking about her son Freddie, she said: “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.”

On Monday Bland tweeted: “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.”

Rachael Bland

BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: “Rachael was a popular and inspiring journalist. Everyone has been moved by her courage and dignity. She will be hugely missed by her many listeners and by staff across the BBC. Our sympathies go out to her family and many friends at this difficult time.”

Controller of Radio 5 Live, Jonathan Wall, said: “Rachael was part of the fabric of 5 Live and today is a very sad day for all of us and so many of our listeners.

“She was a very talented broadcaster and a beautiful loyal colleague to so many. More than that, 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. She has made a profound difference to so many lives.

“We are all so proud at what she achieved – a truly heroic broadcaster and lovely wife, daughter and mum.” 

Bland presented the ‘You, Me & The Big C’ podcast, described as a candid look at cancer, alongside co-hosts Deborah James and Lauren Mahon. She confirmed they will continue the podcast without her.