Celebrated Aussie radio personality Mel Dzelde has died in an Adelaide hospice after battling cancer and motor neurone disease.
Her husband and fellow radio heavyweight, Chris Dzelde, said the “world became a little darker this morning” after Mel “passed away peacefully in her sleep”.
During her life, the veteran radio producer, worked on South Australia’s Mix 102.3 and Power FM stations.
“Her joy and incredibly gracious spirit will, however, live on in all who were touched by her particularly powerful, wonderful magic,” he wrote.
He also thanked Mel for their “nearly 10 years of married bliss”. The couple met while they both worked at Mix 102.3 in the early 2000s. However, they reconnected at a Diesel concert years later.
“We still called ourselves newlyweds!” he wrote.
“I remain in constant awe of the happiness you beamed over EVERYONE! And, we’ll make sure the beams continue! (They may even be more powerful now!)”
Fourth battle with cancer
Prior to her passing, Mel’s husband and a friend, Shaun Sandilands, set up a GoFundMe in order to “bring Christmas early” and help alleviate the family’s financial stress. The campaign was created when she received a poor prognosis after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2021.
The rare condition causes the progressive damage of a patient’s nervous system and can lead to symptoms like tremors, muscle cramps and twitching, which may progress to difficulty swallowing, speaking and chewing.
At the same time, Mel was also battling Stage 4 rectal cancer, despite having beaten cancer on three prior occasions.
Speaking to SA Life in 2020, she said the experience left her feeling “stripped down to my soul,” however she said she felt lucky to have her family’s support.
“I’ve had so many surgeries and treatments. Some of them have come with some horrible side effects. I’ve lost my physical strength; my body isn’t the same,” she said at the time.
“I’ve also lost my hair and looks to some extent too, but I haven’t lost me. In fact, in a strange way I feel more me now than I ever had.”
Friendship with Oprah
Mel was also a passionate fan of US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey. The pair met in 2002 at an International Women’s Conference in Detroit and reconnected when Oprah visited Australia in 2010.
In November, the US celebrity donated $15,000 to Mel’s GoFundMe, and left her a touching message.
“Mel you are what Maya Angelou was talking about when she wrote the poem Phenomenal Woman,” her message began.
“Your life and the light you carry has been an inspiration to all who know you. What a blessing you are.
“I hope this outpouring of friends and people who barely know you blesses you in all ways imaginable.”
In her interview with SA Life, Mel said she remained connected to Oprah since their meeting, including the moment the US TV host sent her a bunch of peonies following her stage four-cancer diagnosis.
“Whenever I have had the chance to talk to her, I’m always so struck by how much she is interested in me,” Mel said.
“She really loves people and mostly we have discussed my dreams and hopes whenever we’ve talked. She is always so very validating and encouraging.”
Story Credit: news.com.au