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Rachael Bland’s widower Steve reveals he has been on his first date

The widower of BBC journalist Rachael Hodges has revealed he has been on two dates – a year after her death from breast cancer aged just 40.

Steve Bland, who is bringing up their son, Freddie, five, has spoken out about the thorny subject of finding love again after losing a partner.

Rachael, who died last September, used her BBC podcast You, Me and the Big C to chart her inspirational two-year public battle with cancer and was praised for her bravery and dignity as she fought terminal illness. 

Speaking to the same podcast his wife co-hosted with friends Deborah James and Lauren Mahon, Steve has admitted he would now consider a new relationship if the right person came along.  

He said: ‘You only know about these things if you give them a crack. And if it’s not right I’ll soon know about it. I’ll know very obviously if I’m jumping the gun, I’ll know very soon if it’s not the right person.

‘I’m only 39. Hopefully I’ve got 35, 40 years left in me it would be pretty sad to have that on my own wouldn’t it?’

Steve Bland, pictured with his late wife Rachael and their son Freddie, has spoken frankly about the difficult subject of dating after losing a partner

Mr Bland said he was open to a new relationship with the right person - a year after his wife's passing

Mr Bland said he was open to a new relationship with the right person – a year after his wife’s passing

He said he he had been on two dates with the same person, but joked: ‘There’s nothing to report on the dating front now as we stand, so it obviously didn’t go that well! 

He added: ‘There’s nothing that will separate a room full of widows and widowers more down the middle than the notion of dating’.

Rachael Bland’s battle with deadly disease

Rachael Bland is pictured in hospital about to undergo chemotherapy 

Rachael Bland is pictured in hospital about to undergo chemotherapy 

November 22 2016: Rachael Bland is diagnosed with primary triple-negative breast cancer that had spread to four lymph nodes under her right arm

December 28 2016: She begins four and a half months of chemotherapy

May 2017: She has a lumpectomy and auxillary node clearance 

July 2017: The mother-of-one undergoes a mastectomy 

August 2017: Bland has a re-excision of her lumpectomy and starts 15 sessions of radiotherapy

October 2017: CT and biopsy shows cancer had spread to the lymph nodes under her arm on the opposite side to the primary cancer   

May 2018: She is told the cancer is terminal and she has ‘less than a year to live’

September 2018: Bland announces she has just days to live in a poignant social media post. She died on September 4.

When asked if he worried what other people might think if he is seen dating someone else, given how much he and Rachael have been in the public eye.

‘I’m wary of it in the sense that I know it will probably happen,’ he says.

‘It goes back to that idea that it’s everybody’s choice whether they want to stay single all their life or meet someone, whatever you want to do it’s your choice.’

Rachael died on September 4 last year surrounded by her family.

Shortly before her death she told the world she only had days to live and announced the heartbreaking final arrangements made for her family as she bravely faced death. 

She revealed she had wrapped 18 years worth of birthday presents for son Freddie, so he had a gift from her until he was 21.

She also wroter her memoirs – simply called ‘For Freddie’ – which she had written just for him so he could remember her.

The BBC 5 Live newsreader had also built up a collection of handwritten notebooks, perfume and other personal items so the little boy grows up knowing how his mummy wrote, smelled and sounded.

Rachael documented her fight against the disease in a blog called Big C Little Me since she was diagnosed in November 2016. 

The Welsh-born journalist also hosted a podcast series called You Me & The Big C where she discussed the highs and lows of battling the illness. 

Her positive BBC podcast explored the disease with frank wit, and occupied the top spot of the UK podcast charts.

Writing in her blog before she died, Bland told of how she was with her son and his friends at an ice cream farm when she was given the earth-shattering news her cancer was terminal. 

BBC newsreader Rachael Bland, pictured with Freddie, died aged 40 following an inspirational two-year public battle with cancer

BBC newsreader Rachael Bland, pictured with Freddie, died aged 40 following an inspirational two-year public battle with cancer

A post on Bland's official Twitter account, featuring a picture of her with Steve, who announced her death and said: 'Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family'

A post on Bland’s official Twitter account, featuring a picture of her with Steve, who announced her death and said: ‘Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family’

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’. 

How Rachael Bland bravely told the story of her fatal cancer

Rachael Bland told the story of her battle with cancer in a frank and humorous podcast, documenting her life from finding a lump to being told she only had days left.

You, Me And The Big C, featuring friends Deborah James and Lauren Mahon sharing their experiences of cancer, now occupies the top spot of the UK podcast charts.

Bland, centre, was a 5 Live presenter

Bland, centre, was a 5 Live presenter

Bland, 40-year-old BBC Radio 5 Live presenter and mother-of-one, battled breast cancer for two years.

Her positive BBC podcast came with the warning ‘contains adult humour’, and explored the disease with frank wit.

She documented each stage of the disease’s progress, which was first diagnosed in November 2016, and declared incurable in May of this year.

In a tweet she said, the broadcaster wrote: ‘I’m told I’ve only got days. It’s very surreal.’

Her upbeat podcast examines death, pain, relationships and everyday life while suffering from cancer.

In an early episode Bland told the story of her discovering she had cancer, after breastfeeding her young boy Freddie who she had with husband Steve.

She said: ‘I had pain first. I had this weird soreness. It was kind of inside my armpit. It went away. It was just around the time I was breastfeeding.

‘But because of that I was having a little bit of a feel. When I found it, I was like: ‘How did I miss this?’

‘It was the size of a walnut.’

What followed were months of treatment for Bland, creator of the blog Big C Little Me, and the start of her gallows humour ‘death jokes’.

Guests on the podcast, including actor Greg Wise talking about death, discussed different aspects of living with cancer.

In May she was told that her cancer had metastasised, spreading to her lymph nodes, skin, and liver.

During one podcast discussing her lungs being drained, Bland frankly said she feared the worst, saying: ‘I’m all right. I’m surviving. Doctors were basically sending me home to die.

‘I was sent home in an ambulance.’

In order to limit the progress of cancer in her liver, Bland gave up alcohol, but still saw humour in the situation as the pain and disease intensified.

‘If at any time you want to just drown in a vat of wine, now is the time,’ she said on the podcast, adding in a later episode: ‘It’s my least favourite organ, that liver.’

Discussing the prospect of death on the podcast, Bland said that her main wish was not to complete a ‘bucket list’, but for time in the garden with her husband and son.

The presenter said that even in these moments there was a fear that time was running out, and she would leave her loved ones behind.

She said: ‘Sometimes there is a little voice that says: ‘Are you enjoying the sun? I don’t think you’ve got another winter in you.”

Her last podcast was on the subject of pain, with Bland admitting she had become ‘quite the cocktail of drugs’ in order to manage the ravages of cancer.

Describing the moment she broke the news to her family, Rachael said: ‘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 [her husband] Steve’s heart with the news that my cancer was now metastatic and therefore incurable.’

The news anchor had written that she felt she had become a ‘lab rat’ after starting a medical trial in a bid to buy her more time with her husband Steve and then two-year-old son Freddie.   

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 an early episode of her podcast, Bland told the story of how she discovered she had cancer, after breastfeeding her young boy Freddie who she had with husband Steve.

She said: ‘I had pain first. I had this weird soreness. It was kind of inside my armpit. It went away. It was just around the time I was breastfeeding.

‘But because of that I was having a little bit of a feel. When I found it, I was like: ‘How did I miss this?’

‘It was the size of a walnut.’

What followed were months of treatment for Bland and the start of her gallows humour ‘death jokes’. 

In May last year she was told that her cancer had metastasised, spreading to her lymph nodes, skin, and liver.

During one podcast discussing her lungs being drained, Bland frankly said she feared the worst, saying: ‘I’m all right. I’m surviving. Doctors were basically sending me home to die. I was sent home in an ambulance.’

In order to limit the progress of cancer in her liver, Bland gave up alcohol, but still saw humour in the situation as the pain and disease intensified. 

‘If at any time you want to just drown in a vat of wine, now is the time,’ she said on the podcast, adding in a later episode: ‘It’s my least favourite organ, that liver.’ 

Discussing the prospect of death on the podcast, Bland said that her main wish was not to complete a ‘bucket list’, but for time in the garden with her husband and son.

She also wrote: ‘Sometimes, when my mind goes for a little wander, before I know it, I’ve pictured my funeral. Mused on who will attend.

‘Wondered what would be said about me. Just the ordinary ponderings on the journey home from work really…what shall we have for dinner tonight? Would I want people at my funeral to wear black? Flowers or no flowers? The usual.’

The presenter said that even in these moments there was a fear that time was running out, and she would leave her loved ones behind.

She said: ‘Sometimes there is a little voice that says: ‘Are you enjoying the sun? I don’t think you’ve got another winter in you.”

Her last podcast was on the subject of pain, with Bland admitting she had become ‘quite the cocktail of drugs’ in order to manage the ravages of cancer.

She passed away peacefully days later. 

Originally from the Cardiff area, Rachael Bland had joined the BBC in 2001, and her career started at Radio Wiltshire, where she worked as a journalist and newsreader.

She later joined BBC Radio 5 Live where she became a feature on Richard Bacon’s late-night show and ended up staying on. She also began presenting on BBC News.

In 2011 when the BBC relocated to Salford, Bland’s was the first voice heard on Radio 5 Live from its new home. 

The new series of You, Me and The Big C is available on BBC Sounds HERE

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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