One in two of us will develop some form of cancer in our lifetime, but until recently, the conversation around the disease was often kept hushed up, the narrative swaying towards the negative.
One of the people who has helped to change that narrative and break the taboos is Steve Bland, a journalist, broadcaster and podcast co-host.
He’s best-known for his work on You Me and the Big C, a BBC podcast he has co-hosted with Lauren Mahon and the late Dame Deborah James since 2018.
Steve was thrust into the public eye in the most tragic of circumstances, when his wife – journalist Rachael Bland, who founded the podcast – died from breast cancer at the age of 40.
While most of us would have hidden away from the world, Steve bravely stepped up to the mic – literally.
He took up his wife’s seat at the podcast table alongside Lauren and Deborah to talk about loss.
The trio discussed the impact Rachael’s death had on Steve’s then-two-year-old son Freddie, the catharsis of talking, and how it feels to begin grieving even before someone has died.
He said: “We were told she had days – it was a proper sledgehammer. She died almost exactly a week later. Every night I’d be lying there at night and she’d be asleep, and I’d be looking at her, almost waiting for her to die, watching her breathing.
“Quite a few times she’d wake up and see me staring at her and be like ‘What are you doing, why are you just watching me?'”
Since that guest appearance, Steve has become a permanent fixture on the You, Me and the Big C podcast, taking the baton from his late wife and running with it.
They were big, brilliant shoes to fill but Steve brought a new perspective to the cancer conversation, and talked with refreshing honesty about grief, and life after death.
The group have shown that even in the darkest of days, it’s okay to find light and laughter, including telling stories of getting the giggles at Rachael’s actual funeral and, more recently, remembering Dame Deborah’s funniest moments while paying tribute to her.
They’ve also opened up a conversation about cancer that wasn’t there before, talking about every aspect of the disease and encouraging people to do the same.
In the days after Rachael’s death, Steve talked about how he didn’t shy away from the subject with their son Freddie.
Steve said at the time: “There have been occasions where I’ve lost my temper with [Freddie] and I know I wouldn’t have done in normal circumstances.
“I shouted at him because he was being a right pain, (I was) trying to get him dressed. I started crying because it really upset me that I’d shouted at him.
“And he just turned to me and he said, ‘Daddy, are you crying because of Mummy?’ and I said ‘Yes’. And he said, ‘Daddy, don’t worry, it’s just us two now. It’ll be OK’.”
Since Steve has joined the podcast, they’ve welcomed in guests to discuss everything from death admin, scientific breakthroughs, treatment options, fertility, ‘scanxiety’, changing the language used around cancer, the way it’s portrayed in the media, and even sex and intimacy when you have or have had cancer.
More recently, he’s talked about finding new love, and about not feeling guilty for it (he’s engaged to marry new fiancée Amy, an NHS nurse).
He said in an interview on ITV’s Lorraine: “Why should I feel guilty? I want to be happy, I’m 40 years old, I’ve got the rest of my life ahead of me. I want to be happy and Rachael wanted me and Freddie to be happy.
“That comes down to individual decisions – for some people they won’t want to meet someone, for other people they might do it within six months of someone dying, and that’s okay as well.
“I think the important thing is to break down the taboo and make it something that people don’t even have to worry about judgement for, there’s no need to feel guilty. All I’m trying to do and all people in my situation are trying to do is be happy and make the most of life.”
He once told The Telegraph: “She always said it would really upset her if she thought I was going to pack it in at 38. I’m determined not to live a second class version of what my life was.”
Steve is a proud supporter of MacMillan and has run the London Marathon to raise money for the charity’s brilliant work, as well as advocating for other campaigns like Stand Up To Cancer.
So although he’s technically from just across the border in Cheshire, we think Steve’s podcast work based at MediaCityUK makes him a very worthy Manc of the Month for July.
Featured Image – Instagram (@mr_blandy)
Slipknot announce huge Manchester gig on UK and European tour
Heavy metal legends Slipknot have just announced a massive tour, which will include an arena show here in Manchester.
The 2024 European and UK headline run promises to bring ‘an energy you’ve never experienced before’, the American rockers have said.
They’ll also bring Scottish heavy metal group Bleed From Within on the tour as support.
Slipknot’s tour will mark 25 years since they first performed in Europe and includes three stops up north, with a show at the Co-op Live arena in Manchester as well as gigs in Leeds and Glasgow, The Hoot reports.
Having released six albums, the band are well known for their ‘explosive’ energy and theatrics on stage, producing nuu metal sounds influenced by the likes of Kiss and Limp Bizkit amongst others over the past few decades.
The full details of the tour are yet to be released, but it is expected that the band will cover a range of hits, spanning right from their 1999 self-titled album to So Far, The End, which was released in 2022.
Speaking of the tour, Slipknot co-founder Clown said: “It has been 25 years since we first played on the continent, and we’ve been back ever since.
“The memories I have from all those times are life changing, and we’re ready to make more. I’m so excited to bring our 25th year anniversary tour to Europe and the UK. Be prepared for an energy you’ve never experienced before. It’s happening.”
Slipknot will perform at the Co-op Live Arena in Manchester on Tuesday 17 December 2024.
Slipknot 2024 tour dates in full
Thursday 5 December 2024 – Amsterdam, Netherlands - Ziggo Dome
Friday 6 December 2024 – Dortmund, Germany – Westfalenhalle
Sunday 8 December 2024 – Stuttgart, Germany – Schleyerhalle
Trailer released for new Netflix drama series starring Michelle Keegan airing in the new year
The first trailer for a new Netflix show starring Michelle Keegan and Joanna Lumley has now been released.
In case you hadn’t heard, the highly-anticipated new crime drama show, which is titled Fool Me Once, is an adaptation of Harlan Coben’s popular novel, and is set to air on the streaming service as soon as 2024 arrives.
But now, the release of the first trailer has proved it looks brilliantly binge-worthy.
The eight-part series follows Manchester-born actress Michelle Keegan’s character, Maya Starn, who is a former special ops pilot struggling with the tragic murder of her husband, Joe, who is played by Richard Armitage.
Detective Sergeant Sami Kierce, who is portrayed by Adeel Akhtar, conducts the investigation into Joe’s death while wrestling with his own hidden truths.
Things start to get interesting though, when she observes via the nanny cam her supposedly deceased husband playing with their baby daughter in her own home.
Meanwhile, Maya’s niece and nephew embark on the journey to seek answers about their own mother’s murder which took place months ago.
But one question remains – could the two mysteries be related?
The first trailer for the show was released by Netflix at the end of last week, and it showcases a star-studded cast with the likes of Dame Joanna Lumley from Absolutely Fabulous, Adeel Akhtar from Sherwood, Emmett J Scanlan from Peaky Blinders, and Dino Fetscher from Paranoid.
The streaming service has unveiled a selection of first look images, showcasing a star-studded cast with the likes of Dame Joanna Lumley from Absolutely Fabulous, Adeel Akhtar from Sherwood, Emmett J Scanlan from Peaky Blinders, and Dino Fetscher from Paranoid.
Filming took place in Yorkshire, where production crews were spotted in the Burdock Way area near the centre of Halifax, but Michelle Keegan was also spotted filming in Manchester city centre back in May.