Who is Rachael Bland?

BBC presenter Rachael Bland, who has incurable cancer, has revealed she has just days to live.

The 40-year-old newsreader announced the news on Twitter on Monday, saying: “I’m afraid the time has come my friends. And suddenly. I’m told I’ve only got days. It’s very surreal… Au revoir my friends.”

Bland, previously known by her maiden name of Hodges, has been a BBC presenter for more than 15 years, most recently on BBC 5 Live.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, but in May 2018 she revealed her condition had become incurable with her hopes resting on clinical trials. She has been documenting her cancer battle through her popular blog Big C and Little Me, and the BBC podcast You, Me & the Big C.

Bland was born in 1978 in Wales. After studying broadcast journalism at university, she started reading news bulletins on BBC Wiltshire. She later joined BBC Five Live presenting the news as part of the Richard Bacon and Tony Livesey late night shows, before moving to daytime slots.

Bland later began reading the news and sports on television, appearing on BBC News and BBC North West Tonight.

BBC presenter Rachael Bland has ‘days left to live’

She married BBC 5 Live producer Steve Bland in September 2013, and they have a son – Freddie – who was born in 2015. He turns 3 in September.

Alongside her broadcast career, Hodges is a keen marathon runner and triathlete who has completed the London Marathon a number of times, raising money for charities such as Look and Cancer Research UK.

Bland was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2016 after suffering pains under her arm and finding a lump. The oncologist told her her prognosis was “very good” and underwent a treatment of chemotherapy “wearing a Paxman cold cap”, in order to keep her hair.

A lumpectomy later showed that the treatment had not been a total success, and she then underwent a full mastectomy. Following more chemotherapy it was discovered that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, but after node surgery, the cancer then spread to the skin on her chest, as she had developed “technically inflammatory breast cancer”.

In May 2018, Bland received the news that her cancer had metastasised and was now incurable, but began experimental immunotherapy in a final bid to beat the growth.

L-R: Rachael Bland, Lauren Mahon, Deborah James, presenters of You, Me & the Big C. (BBC/Claire Wood)

Bland has been documenting her battle through her blog Big C and Little Me. Bland began it in December 2016 with a post titled “Four stages of dealing with diagnosis” in which she addressed the mixed emotions you feel dealing with life-changing news. She signed off her first post with: “There’s a bit of a bump in the road coming up, but I’m not going anywhere.”

The blog has since won a number of awards including an O2 Media Award for Best Vlogger/Blogger, and a “I Had Cancer” Best Blog award in 2017.

A podcast soon followed. Bland presents You, Me and the Big C: Putting the can in cancer for tbe BBC alongside fellow cancer bloggers Lauren Mahon and Deborah James. There are now 18 episodes, all free to download, and it now sits atop iTunes’ podcast charts after Bland revealed her tragic news.

The presenter has also been racing to write her memoirs for her son to remember her by.

“My main plan has been to write my memoir, ‘For Freddie’, which is almost finished,” Bland wrote for HuffPost before she received her most recent diagnosis.

“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.

“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.”

Now, with just days to live, there’s been an outpouring of support on social media from colleagues such as Richard Bacon, Susannah Reid, and Chris Stark.