Famed Australian radio host Mel Zelde has died at an Adelaide hospice after battling c*ncer and motor neurone disease.
Her husband and fellow radio heavyweight Chris Zelde said “the world got a little darker this morning” after Mel “passed away peacefully in her sleep”.
During her lifetime, the veteran radio producer worked for Mix 102.3 and Power FM in South Australia.
“However, her joy and incredibly fertile spirit will live on in all who have been touched by her especially powerful, wonderful magic,” he wrote.
He also thanked Mel for “nearly 10 years of marital happiness.” The couple met while both were working for Mix 102.3 in the early 2000s. However, years later they reunited at a Diesel concert.
“We also called ourselves newlyweds!” He wrote.
“I remain in constant awe of the happiness you have radiated to EVERYONE! And we’ll make sure the beams continue! (Now they can be even stronger!)
Fourth battle with c*ncer
Before her passing, Mel’s husband and friend Sean Sandilands created GoFundMe to “bring Christmas early” and ease the family’s financial stress. The campaign was created when she had a poor prognosis in 2021 after being diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND).
This rare condition causes progressive damage to the patient’s nervous system and can lead to symptoms such as tremors, muscle spasms, and twitches that can progress to difficulty swallowing, speaking, and chewing.
At the same time, Mel was also battling stage 4 rectal c*ncer despite beating c*ncer three times.
Speaking with SA Life she said in 2020 that the experience left her feeling “stripped to the core”, however she said she was lucky to have her family’s support.
“I have had so many surgeries and procedures. Some of them came with terrible side effects. I have lost physical strength; my body is not the same,” she said at the time.
“I also lost my hair and appearance to some extent, but I didn’t lose myself. In fact, in some strange way, I feel more like myself than ever.”
Friendship with Oprah
Mel was also an avid fan of American talk show queen Oprah Winfrey. The couple met in 2002 at the International Women’s Conference in Detroit and reunited when Oprah visited Australia in 2010.
In November, an American celebrity donated $15,000 to Mel’s GoFundMe and left her a touching message.
“Mel, you are the one Maya Angelou was talking about when she wrote the poem. Phenomenal womanher message began.
“Your life and the light you bring 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 will bless you in every way imaginable.”
In his interview with SA LifeMel said she has remained in touch with Oprah since they met, including when the American TV presenter sent her a bouquet of peonies after she was diagnosed with stage four c*ncer.
“Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to talk to her, I’ve always been struck by how interested she is in me,” Mel said.
“She really loves people and we basically discussed my dreams and hopes whenever we talked. She is always very supportive and encouraging.”
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