BBC newsreader Rachael Bland has revealed how she’s preparing her family for the day when she’s no longer here.
The cancer-stricken mum yesterday revealed she has just “days to live” — and she wants to leave plenty for her three-year-old son Freddie to remember her by.
The devoted mum has wrapped 18 years’ worth of presents and penned a lifetime of advice to the toddler.
Rachael, 40, wrote a blog post last week for the Huffington Post — before learning she has “just days to live”.
In April, doctors told the mum-of-one her breast cancer was incurable and Rachael knew she didn’t have long left.
So she set to preparing her son and husband, Steve, for that unimaginable day.
In the post, Rachael said she has gathered together a collection of notebooks and perfume — items to help Freddie remember her.
She plans to wrap up 18 years’ worth of presents, to make sure her son has a gift from her, every year until he turns 21.
And the journalist has penned a memoir to her son, For Fred, leaving him with snippets of advice, memories and his mum’s words to remember her by.
Rachael also said she’s set up a Whatsapp group with her sister-in-law, Steve’s sister, leaving instructions that her husband might find too hard to deal with right now.
They include not cutting Freddie’s hair too short, and to make sure he goes to the best school and uni possible — so long as it’s what he wants.
In the post, published by the Huffington Post today, she said: “The main thing is that, while he’s so young, I want him to remember me in some way.
“I hope the book and these gifts and notes will leave an imprint of my love behind for the rest of his life.
“So he can be sure how very much I love him.”
The 5 Live broadcaster bid fans farewell yesterday, in a post she shared on social media.
She said: “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.
And she signed off with a simple, but heartbreaking “au revoir”.
The post has received thousands of shares, and comments from friends, colleagues and complete strangers thanking Rachael for being an inspiration.
She is the creator of podcast You, Me And The Big C, which she co-hosts with two of her best pals who are also battling cancer — The Sun’s Deborah James, 36, and Lauren Mahon, 32.
As the news broke that Rachael has just days to live, the podcast has soared to the top of the download charts.
Her husband tweeted that his wife is “very happy about [being number 1]”, adding the family are grateful for all the messages of support.
He said: “We did it! #YouMeBigC is number 1 and I promise you @Rachael_Hodges is very happy about it.
“While we’re at it, I’m doing my best to read as many of your messages to her as I can. Can’t tell you how much comfort they are bringing us all. Thank you.”
The brutally honest podcast aims to put the “CAN in cancer”, and has served as a huge inspiration and source of support for thousands of cancer patients — and their families.
The second series launched just weeks ago — having reached number two in the podcast download charts previously.
But as news of Rachael’s final post, saying goodbye to all those who have supported her, swept social media the podcast has soared up the charts.
Deborah James, who is living with stage 4 bowel cancer, said: “It’s what Rach has always wanted. It always annoyed her we didn’t quite get the top spot. This will mean the world.
“When this podcast started we wanted to get people talking about cancer — and we have.
“Rach, it breaks my heart to know this is happening to you right now.
“But you need to know we are all here ‘virtually’ holding your hand in a dark moment, just like you did for so many others when you had the idea to create You, Me And The Big C.
“Not only have you made a difference, but you smashed it out of the park girlfriend.”
And Lauren tweeted: “WE DID IT! Thank you so much for getting #YouMeBigC to the top for our bae @Rachael_Hodges. We promised you we would Rach x.”
A host of BBC stars had urged listeners to download the podcast, to help Rachael realise her dream.
Radio One’s Chris Stark tweeted: “Rather than our podcast can I urge everyone that like what we do to download and subscribe to the #youmebigc podcast.
“None of us EVER want to face this. But if we do, I would want to do this like @Rachael_Hodges.
“Let’s get this to number 1. Let’s show her.”
He added: “Rachael is the very best about what the BBC represents. I am so proud to work on the same platform as this incredible woman.
“If you have five minutes today please read up on one of my favourite broadcasters and what she has done to change the world. Inspirational.”
Rachael revealed she was in a “race against time” in July, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2016.
But, in April this year, she was told her cancer was incurable and her only hopes rested with a clinical trial, to buy her more time with her family.
Two months later a scan showed her cancer had spread, leaving doctors with few options.
The devoted mum has spent the last few months writing a memoir for Freddie, giving her the chance to say all those things she might miss out on saying as he grows up.
Writing on her blog previously, the presenter told how she was with her two-year-old son Freddie and his friends at an ice cream farm when she was told the cancer was terminal.
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’.
“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.”
Reacting to Rachael’s post yesterday, co-presenters of You, Me And The Big C, Deborah and Lauren shared their heartache.
Deborah, author of The Sun’s “Things Cancer Made Me Say” column, said: “Right now, I have few words.
“Rachael, I love you and I’m so proud to call you my friend.”
And harnessing the spirit of her pal, Deborah made a plea to fans of the podcast.
She added: “Right now, all I ask is that you go and do something that makes you feel alive.
“That reminds you how lucky you are just to wake up and breathe.
“Cancer can go f**k itself.”
Co-presenter Lauren, who is in remission from breast cancer, tweeted: “Could not be more grateful to have you in my life.
“So proud of you my fabulous friend.
“Love you more than words can say. We’ve got you bubba.”
Fellow BBC presenter Mark Chapman added: “Oh Rachael, I am so very sorry.
“What you have done has been amazing and helped so many.
“Sending so much love to you, Steve and Freddie.”
And Victoria Derbyshire, who has also faced breast cancer, added: “Bloody hell Rachael. Courage, grace, laughter — that’s you. You are amazing x.”
BBC Live breakfast presenter Nicky Campbell’s tweet echoed the thoughts of hundreds.
He said: “You are an astonishing human being. Love to all x.”
Charities including Breast Cancer Care, Bowel Cancer UK and The Eve Appeal added their messages, sending love to Rachael and her family.
Meanwhile, complete strangers have also replied to the presenter’s tweet, thanking her for being an inspiration.
Mark Rose wrote: “I don’t know you but I want to say you have touched so many people and helped all of them.
“Some people live a 100 years without having half the impact you have made on the world.
“I hope everyone you love is with you right now.”
And Sam Walker added: “I’m so shocked and so sorry.
“What a magnificent person you are. You have made the world a better place xx.”