Thursday 18 July 2019

'My heart broke for my son and my husband' - BBC newsreader Rachael Bland reveals she has incurable breast cancer

Rachael Bland has revealed she has incurable breast cancer. Photo: BBC News
Rachael Bland has revealed she has incurable breast cancer. Photo: BBC News
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

BBC presenter Rachael Bland has revealed that she has incurable cancer.

The Radio 5 Live newsreader had been undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy for triple negative breast cancer since it was diagnosed in November 2016. 

But this week, she revealed that the cancer has spread.

"I was out at the ice cream farm with Freddie (her son) and some of his little pals. My heart raced as I answered [the phone], 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 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 metastatic and therefore incurable."

Rachael has been documenting her treatment on her blog 'Big C Little Me. Putting the Can into Cancer', and her podcast, 'You, Me & the Big C'. 

She told her readers how she had been hopeful that chemotherapy would treat the cancer. Her oncologist broke the news to her that surgery was not an option now that her cancer had spread.

She said: "Any kind of surgery with stage 4 multiple mets is a bit like slamming the stable door after the horse has bolted.  There has been a lot of waiting. First for a grim-faced meeting with the oncologist. I turned up a little hopeful, thinking at least by the time we left we’d have a plan."

"Even if that was just to extend things for a while. Action always feels good. But he explained – as if I didn’t know it all too well already – that my cancer hasn’t responded well to chemo thus far. And with chemo there’s usually no magic button, we won’t suddenly find one that smashes it."

Rachael, who has presented the news on BBC for more than 15 years, was encouraged by doctors to take part in a clinical trial.

She had assumed the position of a "lab rat", she said, and iss one of less than 150 people who will test a new treatment.

"I am lucky that there are some options for trial treatments. They have very strict criteria for recruitment and I have gone through a fairly thorough screening to make sure I am healthy enough (ironic!) to have the treatment."

The skin metatases are in her left breast and chest, to the nodes above her collar bone, a tumour in her liver and "a couple of suspicious spots on my spine".

She explained: "I also have a small collection of fluid on the outside of my right lung, called a plueral effusion which is indicative of some cancer starting to lurk there."

"So that’s skin, nodes, liver, bones, lung. I think even the unscientific amongst you can do the math on that one." 

"Last Wednesday I started on the first clinical trial they have in store for me." 

"I feel an odd sense of pride that I am one of fewer than 150 people worldwide who will test it. If it doesn’t help me then I hope the data I provide will at some point in the future help others in the same position."

The mum-of-one added: "We are waiting and hoping. Whatever greater power you believe in, send us your collective prayers." 

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