BBC presenter Rachael Bland has been told she has days to live after a two-year battle with breast cancer, prompting a wave of tributes to the Radio 5 Live host’s resilient struggle against the disease.
The mother-of-one, 40, shared the news on social media this afternoon, saying: ‘I’m afraid to say the time has come’.
She has been documenting her fight against the disease in a blog called Big C Little Me since she was diagnosed in November 2016.
The Welsh journalist also hosted a podcast series called You Me & The Big C where she discussed the highs and lows of battling the illness.
Former BBC colleague Susanna Reid was among those to show their sympathy, writing on Twitter: ‘Oh Rachael. You have so much courage.
‘You are loved beyond measure by people you haven’t even met because of the way you have dealt with this. My love to you and your family.’
Colleagues, friends and followers posted online to offer their support and express their sadness.
Victoria Derbyshire wrote: ‘Bloody hell Rachael. Courage, grace, laughter – that’s you. You are amazing X.’
BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty said: ‘You have touched the lives of so many and inspired many more. Thinking of you and your loved ones.’
Her BBC colleague Eleanor Oldroyd posted: ‘Dear Rachael, you have lived a life to inspire millions.
‘Your many friends will be there for Steve and Freddie. Love and peace and prayers from all of us xxx’
Cancer survivor and fellow podcast co-host Lauren Mahon wrote: ‘Could not be more grateful to have you in my life.
‘So proud of you my fabulous friend. Love you more than words can say. We’ve got you bubba.’
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.’
She said: ‘My heart raced as I answered it, knowing a phone call did not bode well.
‘Then came the words ‘I am so sorry, it’s bad news. The biopsies have come back showing the same cancer is back and is in the skin’.
‘I scooped him up and dashed home and then had to break (her husband) Steve’s heart with the news that my cancer was now metastatic and therefore incurable.’
Mrs Bland, a BBC news presenter of more than 15 years, has documented her fight with the disease with her blog Big C Little Me. Putting the Can into Cancer’ and a podcast called ‘You, Me & The Big C’.
Writing in her blog, Big C Little Me, Mrs Bland wrote: ‘Now I have turned lab rat. I am in the hands of the incredible team on the Christie Clinical Trials Unit.
‘They work at the very cutting edge of cancer treatment, looking to make those little discoveries about new drugs that may lead the way forward in cancer treatment for the future.’
Thousands of listeners tuned in to BBC Radio 5 Live to hear her weekly discussions with fellow patients Lauren Mahon and Deborah James on the highs and lows of living with cancer.
In a heart-wrenching interview with the Telegraph last month she revealed that she decided not to find out how long she has left to live, instead ‘guesstimating’ that it was less than a year.
‘I have to suppress a lot of the darkest thoughts about Freddie growing up without his mummy around,’ she added.
In May this year she said she wanted to fill every day she had left with joyful memories for her young son.
She said: ‘I like happy times and love and happiness and I want to hold on to those positives.
‘Unless the doctors can stop this terrible disease, I have a limited time left and I want to fill it with lovely memories for Steve and Freddie.’
Their fifth wedding anniversary falls on September 14.
On August 3, she revealed she had been ruled out of clinical trials because of a rise in enzymes.
She wrote on Instagram: ‘Another bump in the road. Whilst I was concentrating on my lungs my liver was busy throwing a [spanner] in the works.
‘An enzyme called ALT has been steadily on the rise since I started trials. It is a sign of liver damage and right now it rules me out of any further trials.
She added that she was rushing to complete a memoir for her son, saying: ‘It’s now a real race against time for me to finish my book For Freddie. If you need me, you’ll find me typing and drinking gallons of water!’
She later wrote on Twitter that she had secured an agent, who was working on finding her a publisher for the memoir.
Mrs Bland, who lives in Cheshire with her husband Steve and their two-year-old son Freddie, wrote on her blog Big C Little Me about the phone call she received while out with her son, telling her the cancer had spread.
The 40-year-old revealed she was forced to ‘scoop her son up’ and go home from a family day out to a local farm to ‘break her husband’s heart’ with the news her cancer was incurable.
She wrote: ‘I would love to be writing you a more positive post but unfortunately, the bad news keeps on racking up. My lymph node surgery in February went to plan but the results as ever weren’t good.
‘Seven out of 19 nodes removed were positive for cancer – a sign the previous 4 months of chemo hadn’t really cut the mustard.
‘Still, no reason to be reaching for the life boats just yet. A few days later came the call.
‘I was at the ice cream farm with Freddie and some of his little pals. My heart raced as I answered it, knowing a phone call did not bode well.
‘I watched my little Freddie innocently playing away in a tyre in the barn and my heart broke for him.
‘I scooped him up and dashed home and then had to break Steve’s heart with the news that my cancer was now and therefore incurable.’