Rachael Bland

Rachael Rebecca Bland (née Hodges; 21 January 1978 – 5 September 2018) was a Welsh journalist and a presenter with BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC North West Tonight. She was known for her podcast, You, Me and the Big C which was broadcast while she was ill with breast cancer, and in which she discussed issues and treatment of the disease. In the final months of her life she wrote a memoir, For Freddie, which was published posthumously early the following year.

Rachael Bland
Rachael Bland 2018.jpg
Bland in a video for Stylist, 2018
Born
Rachael Rebecca Hodges

(1978-01-21)21 January 1978
Died5 September 2018(2018-09-05) (aged 40)
Cheshire, England
Cause of deathBreast cancer
EducationUniversity of Wales
University of Central Lancashire
OccupationJournalist and presenter
Spouse(s)
Steve Bland
(m. 2013)
Children1

CareerEdit

Bland was born in Creigiau, Cardiff.[1][2] She started her career presenting news bulletins with the BBC Local Radio station BBC Wiltshire. She then moved to BBC Radio 5 Live, at first reading the news on Richard Bacon's show, where she became the straight talking foil to Bacon on The Special Half Hour Club.[3]

Bland then started to present sports on television, as well as acting as a relief and weekend presenter on the BBC News Channel.[4] When BBC Radio 5 Live moved to MediaCityUK, Salford Quays in 2011, Bland started to present on BBC North West Tonight as both a newsreader and as the main relief presenter.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

In September 2013, she married BBC Radio 5 Live producer Steve Bland.[5] They had a son together, Freddie.[5] Bland competed as a triathlete, including the 2010 London Triathlon, raising funds for Breast Cancer Care.[6] She completed the London Marathon several times.[7]

IllnessEdit

Bland was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in November 2016.[5][8] In the early stages of her condition, she continued to present Radio 5 Live, saying she would rather be known as "Rachael the news presenter" than "Rachael the cancer patient".[9] She was attacked by Internet trolls who accused her of "not fighting cancer hard enough".[10]

Following the diagnosis, Bland started presenting the BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C to raise awareness of cancer, discussing the disease with celebrities and providing advice of how to manage it.[5] The podcast featured fellow cancer patients Deborah James and Lauren Mahon and became popular for its discussion of cancer, with medical experts regularly appearing on the programme. It featured the trio's self-deprecating humour to cope with their situation; when Bland announced she was unsure that she would survive to the end of the series, James retorted, "Shut up, Rachael, stop being so over-dramatic."[11][9]

In early 2018, she participated in a clinical trial of experimental treatment at the Christie Hospital, Manchester, that she hoped would prevent or postpone the cancer.[11][9] This was unsuccessful, and in May, she announced that her cancer had spread and was now incurable. She hoped that clinical treatment would still be available so she could live longer.[12] She continued to blog and run You, Me and the Big C, and hoped that she could do enough to give her son memories of her life.[9] Towards the end of her life, she announced she had written her memoirs, which she hoped would be published some day.[5] In June, a crowdfunding site was set up in order to allow her to have a family holiday while she still could.[13]

Death and legacyEdit

In August 2018, Bland announced that she had less than a year to live.[14] On 3 September, she announced on her Twitter account that her "time had come", and that she only had days left.[15] She died two days later at the age of 40.[2] You, Me and the Big C reached number one on the iTunes Podcast charts during this week.[5] Family and colleagues paid her tribute including Dan Walker, Dame Kelly Holmes, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne and Busted's Charlie Simpson.[5] Health secretary Matt Hancock said, "Her legacy is a testament to how much more we need to do to beat this dreadful disease."[9] Her co-hosts plan to continue the You, Me and the Big C podcast.[16] On 21 February 2019, her memoir For Freddie (which is dedicated to her son) was published.[17]

On the 28 June 2019 American rock band The Killers dedicated their song "A Dustland Fairytale" to Bland, while in concert at Cardiff Castle, after a request from her husband. Bland had been a huge fan of the band and had been to watch them in concert while she was ill; her husband said she had been "so happy" when she listened to the group, even when she was particularly unwell.[18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Cathy, Owen. "Newsreader Rachael Bland dies from cancer after being given days to live". Wales Online. Retrieved 5 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "BBC presenter Rachael Bland dies at 40". 5 September 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Graham, Jane (22 December 2009). "We'll miss our nightly diet of Bacon". Retrieved 1 April 2019 – via www.theguardian.com. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Neil Midgley (6 November 2010). "BBC strike sees ragbag of presenters take to the airwaves". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 February 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "BBC presenter Rachael Bland dies at 40". BBC News. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Seven Reasons to Watch Rachael Hodges on BBC News". 7reasons.org. Retrieved 11 March 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Andy Dill (13 April 2012). "A Marathon task for Will and Rachael". BBC Radio 5 Live. Retrieved 8 February 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "BBC presenter battling breast cancer to launch Race for Life at Tatton Park". Knutsford Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ a b c d e "Rachael Bland, host of cancer podcast You, Me and the Big C, dies at 40". The Guardian. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Rachael Bland hits out at online trolls who accused her of not fighting cancer hard enough". The Independent. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ a b "You, Me and the Big C: 'When you talk about cancer, you normalise it'". The Observer. 10 June 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "BBC presenter Rachael Bland reveals 'incurable' cancer". BBC News. 21 May 2018. Retrieved 21 May 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Fundraising campaign for BBC presenter Rachael Bland with terminal cancer". Birmingham Mail. 20 June 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "BBC presenter Rachael Bland in 'race' to finish memoir". BBC News. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "BBC presenter Rachael Bland says she has only 'days' to live". BBC News. 3 September 2018.
  16. ^ Harding, Laura (4 September 2018). "Cancer Podcast Presenter Bland Has Just Days to Live". The Herald. Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018 – via HighBeam Research.
  17. ^ Bland, Rachael (21 February 2019). For Freddie. Michael O'mara Books. ISBN 9781789291322.
  18. ^ Rhys, Steffan; Knapman, Joshua (28 June 2019). "The Killers pay tribute to Rachael Bland after special request from her husband". walesonline. Retrieved 30 June 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)