Rachael Bland's close friend and podcast co-host Deborah James, known as @bowelbabe on social media, has written a very moving open letter to the BBC 5live newsreader following her death. The writer and campaigner, who herself has stage 4 bowel cancer, wrote for The Sun's Fabulous: "My darling Rachael, It’s 6am and I’m writing this in floods of tears. Why? Because normally when it’s 6am I text you. I text you to say I think my cancer has gone bonkers and I’m dying. I tell you I can’t breathe. I ask you if you’ve experienced similar pains. I tell you I’m scared."
Rachael, Deborah and Lauren of the podcast You, Me And The Big C
She continues: "You would tell me not to be silly - and that 'you know when you are dying'. All the while, you knew you were dying. Yet you were able to listen to me with intense sympathy, most likely wishing you too had 'options'. Today, instead of your morning message about our chart position or latest death joke, I got a text I knew was coming. It broke my heart to read it, to see in black and white that you're really gone."
Deborah, Rachael and fellow pal Lauren Mahon are the trio behind You, Me And The Big C – the BBC podcast that broke ground with its refreshingly frank approach to cancer and everything that comes with it. On Monday, after Rachael announced she had just days to live, her friends and family launched a campaign to get it to number one on the downloads chart – something they achieved, and that Rachael was happy to learn of before she died on Wednesday.
Deborah also touched on Rachael's unwavering ability to poke fun at her disease, even when it was at its most terrifying. "When my cancer came back, you were the first person I called… We talked about how life can be so damn unfair, how you wouldn't get to see Freddie grow up, or even make his first day at school.
"But, you didn't let either of us dwell on the fear. Instead, you instantly turned our sadness into a debate over if we should re-name the podcast Til Death Do Us Part. You sent me a barrage of death jokes, gifs of dancing grim reapers and asked if we should try for a 2 for 1 deal on funerals. You were the only reason I was able to laugh through that darkness."
Read Deborah's full letter here.