A brave BBC newsreader has announced her cancer battle is almost over – as doctors have warned she has just days left to live.
Rachael Bland, who works on Radio 5 Live, tweeted today to say goodbye to her friends, fans and listeners who have supported her throughout her intense illness.
"In the words of the legendary Frank [Sinatra] – I’m afraid the time has come my friends. And suddenly. I’m told I’ve only got days. It’s very surreal. Thank you so much for all the support I’ve received. Debs and lozz will continue with the youmebigc podcast. Au revoir my friends," she wrote.
Rachael, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2016, was out with son Freddie when she received the devastating phone call to break the news that her cancer could not be treated, and rushed home to break the awful news to husband Steve.
She had months of chemotherapy last year and lymph node surgery in February but biopsies showed her cancer was metastatic.
Rachael, 40, said in May she had "turned lab rat" by taking a new trial drug after being referred to the Clinical Trials Unit.
The presenter has been documenting her heartbreaking experience on her blog, ‘Big C little me’, and as co-host on the podcast ‘You, Me and the Big C’.
Speaking about answering the call while out with her son, Rachael 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 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."
As her cancer had not responded well to chemotherapy, Rachael, from Creigiau, Cardiff, was told her best chance was with treatment with a ‘novel agent’.
She had been taking a new drug as part of clinical trials for immunotherapy, which gets your own immune system to attack the cancer, work in breast cancer.
The treatment works well in some types of cancer but not currently in breast cancer.
Speaking about her sense of pride, Rachael said in May: "It is a Phase 1b trial so very early in the process and 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."
At the time, she added: "This is the real future of cancer treatment, personalised to the genetics of your tumour which may be totally different to those of someone else with the ‘same’ type of cancer.
"We are waiting and hoping. Whatever greater power you believe in, send us your collective prayers."
In her most recent blog post, published on July 17, Rachael said the power of positive healing should be used as medicine.
She revealed she’d had to sign a Do Not Resuscitate agreement after test results showed her immunotherapy trial was doing more harm than good, and needed more than two litres of fluid drained off her lungs during a hospital stay.
"I have a bag full of pharmacy drugs that any dealer would be proud of. I am taking steroids by the bucket-load, and swallowing along with them my vain worries about dying fat!" she joked in her post.
"An oxygen has been installed at home. I hate it, it is noisy and a sign of the creeping medicalisation of our home that I watched happen when my dad died. It has an incredibly long plastic tube attached to it so I can move around the house and garden. Anytime a toddler, dog or family member treads on it my head gets whipped back like Beyoncé in full swing."
In August she was told her trial would come to an abrupt end because the experimental treatment she was on was causing major damage to her liver.
Rachael shared a snap of herself standing outside The Christie hospital in Liverpool – world-renowned for its cancer treatments – on Instagram, captioning it: "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."
As a result, Rachael had to cut booze out of her diet and seriously change what she was eating to take the pressure off her liver.
"This just got serious. Game face on," she added.
"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!"
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