BBC news presenter Rachael Bland, who was widely praised for the manner in which she fought breast cancer, has died aged 40.

Just two days ago the journalist, who had been at the BBC for more than 15 years, bade "au revoir" to her friends, revealing she only had days left to live. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and recorded the You Me and The Big C podcast, following her while she underwent treatment, and documented her cancer journey on her blog Big C Little Me.

Her family confirmed that she had died this morning shortly after 3am. Mrs Bland's husband Steve told the BBC: "Rachael's death has left a huge hole in our perfect little family that we'll never be able to fill.

"She was an incredibly talented broadcaster as well as a wonderful and much-loved daughter, sister, aunt, niece, wife and, most importantly to her, a mother to her precious little Freddie.

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"We all take such huge comfort and pride from the amazing and tireless work she has done since her diagnosis to reduce the stigma around cancer and prove that it is possible to live life to the fullest even when facing huge challenges on a daily basis. At the end, even though her body was at its weakest, her voice was at its strongest and most powerful.

"Rachael was and will always be an incredible inspiration to everyone she met. To us, she was perfect in every way and we will miss her more than words can say.

"We just ask that everyone respects our family's privacy as we try and come to terms with losing our beautiful girl."

A post on Bland's official Twitter account said: "Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family. We are crushed but she would want me to thank everyone who took an interest in her story or sent messages of support. You'll never know how much they meant to her. Steve and Freddie".

Her friend and colleague Tony Livesey said: "5Live's lost one of its brightest spirits. I'm going into cliche territory now so she'll be pressing an alarm somewhere, but she was beautiful inside and out. She was such a lovely person.

"Rachael Bland - presenter, friend to most of us, inspiration to all. Radio 5 Live is broadcasting with a broken heart. We've lost one of our brightest talents."

In a statement on the social media site on Monday afternoon, she wrote: "In the words of the legendary Frank S - 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 You Me and The Big C podcast. Au revoir my friends."

Writing in the Telegraph last month, she told how the cancer had spread around multiple lymph nodes in her upper body, into her skin and liver.

She said at the time: "We still had some hope of holding back the tide for a while, but no one survives metastatic breast cancer long term.

"I've not asked how long I have left, because I don't want a number in my head that I'm counting down to. It's only ever a best guesstimate – but I've got less than a year."

Scores of her colleagues and supporters paid tribute to the popular presenter, with Radio 5's controller, Jonathan Wall, describing her as "part of the fabric of 5 Live", adding that today was "a very sad day for all of us and so many of our listeners".

He ended his tribute saying: "We are all so proud at what she achieved - a truly heroic broadcaster and lovely wife, daughter and mum."

Rachel, 40, was writing a memoir for her 3-year-old son Freddie so that he could remember her.
Rachel, 40, was writing a memoir for her 3-year-old son Freddie so that he could remember her.

A number of other fellow broadcasters also shared their sadness at the news of her death.

Jacqui Oatley tweeted: "Sleep tight, dear inspirational Rachael. You'll never be forgotten."

And Sky's Hayley McQueen said: "This is such tragic news about the brilliant journalist Rachael Bland passing away at just 40 years old. May this inspiring courageous woman rest in peace. Thoughts with her husband, family, friends & in particular her young son."

Radio 5 Live presenter Anna Foster tweeted: "Fly high Rachael, we'll never forget you and we'll make sure your incredible work lives on".

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: "So sad to hear Rachael Bland has died. She fought so bravely. Her legacy is a testament to how much more we need to do to beat this dreadful disease."

Dame Kelly Holmes responded to the post on Bland's official Twitter account, writing: "I am only liking this as I want to respect what you have written. It feels strange to be pressing like on something so sad. Rachael has done more for awareness then anyone and for that people are truly grateful. My heart and love goes out to all of your family so sorry."

Former Busted singer Charlie Simpson expressed his sadness at the news, recalling how he'd listened to Bland's podcast this week, adding he had been "amazed at how charming, funny and gracious she was in the face of such tragic circumstances. Such a strong women. Rest in Peace".

Tributes have flowed in for the popular presenter and podcaster. Photo / Twitter
Tributes have flowed in for the popular presenter and podcaster. Photo / Twitter

On Monday, when Bland announced she only had days to live, colleagues responded with messages of support for the popular presenter, with Juliette Ferrington writing: "Oh my goodness Rachael, sending you a bomb of love, strength and peace. In absolute awe of your courage, determination and willingness to fight every single day. Lots of love," signing off her tweet with two kisses.

BBC's cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew, whose own wife Emma was given the all clear after her breast cancer diagnosis, tweeted his thoughts.

He said: "And then reality suddenly bites and perspective gained. This is awful. No words, other than love to you and Steve (husband)."

Bland's Radio 5 colleague Richard Bacon also offered support on Twitter, writing: "Days. 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."

Writing for the Telegraph on August 11, she said: "I'm not scared of dying. I only fear for those I leave behind. For my darling Freddie, who'll be three next month, for Steve and our families.

"Even now, knowing the 'no options left' conversation is coming, I can't crumble and fall to pieces.

"I have to suppress a lot of the darkest thoughts about Freddie growing up without his mummy around. If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to enjoy the precious times we have left together."

Dozens of well-wishers thanked Ms Bland for both her podcast which she hosts alongside Lauren Mahon and Deborah James and her blog, Big C Little Me.

Financial journalist Steph McGovern was among those singing her praises, and wrote: "Rachael, I am so gutted for you and your family.

"The podcast has clearly helped so many people and you did it with such style, humour and bloody brilliance. Thank you for everything you have done."

Others to offer their support were singer Ronan Keating, BBC's Chris Warburton and Chris Mason, Olympian Greg Rutherford and a host of listeners going through their own cancer treatment.

You Me and The Big C co-host Deborah James simply wrote: "No words right now - just heartbreak."