WABC-TV news director Rehan Aslam dies following cancer battle

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Tuesday, July 12, 2022
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Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a beloved member of our Channel 7 Eyewitness News family, news director Rehan Aslam, who died following a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. To honor Rehan, we wanted to use this personal tragedy to raise awareness for this disease.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a beloved member of our Channel 7 Eyewitness News family, news director Rehan Aslam, who died over the weekend following a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Aslam was an incredible husband, father, son, brother and friend, and he will be missed.

He spent six years at the ABC affiliate in Houston before landing his dream job last year at WABC-TV in New York City.

He led the newsroom for just a few months before he was diagnosed with glioblastoma.

"The life expectancy isn't that long," said Dr. Viviane Tabar, Chair of Neurosurgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. "It is 18 months with treatments that include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy."

There are variables with most brain cancers, including age, how people react to the treatments, and how far the cancerous tumor has advanced. But with glioblastoma, the odds are never good.

"That that particular type of tumor presents itself already at stage four," Dr. Tabar said. "There are other types of brain tumors that that present at an earlier stage, but this particular trauma already presents in that condition."

Glioblastoma tumors are generally located in the brain stem area, meaning they are hard to reach and next to impossible to remove surgically.

"Break Through Cancer is a new foundation that was created just last year to bring together experts from five leading cancer centers in the country to think about really challenging problems in cancer, including glioblastoma, in a highly collaborative fashion," said Dr. Tyler Jacks, president of the Break Through Cancer Foundation. "So our goal is to accelerate progress against glioblastoma as well as other highly deadly cancers by enabling people to work together in ways that have been challenging in the past. And for patients and their families, I think the message would be, we're bringing the best approaches as rapidly as possible to the benefit of patients."

The hard truth with glioblastoma is that researchers are a long way from answers, but it is a rare cancer.

"It is estimated that for glioblastoma in particular, about seven in 100,000 people are diagnosed with it in one year in this country," Dr. Tabar said. "The lifetime risk of getting a glioblastoma is less than 1%, so the odds are very, very low that any one person will get it. But improving awareness of it is important, and once a person gets it, it's so tragic and dramatic that a whole circle of people are impacted by it."

Aslam began his broadcasting career in 2001 at WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio. He then went on to produce at WJW-TV in Cleveland and executive produce at WFLD-TV in Chicago.

He joined KTRK-TV in Houston in 2014 as assistant news director, before being named vice president and news director in 2019.

He joined WABC in 2021.

Aslam was passionate about storytelling, spending each day serving diverse communities. He was the founding member of the ABC Owned Television Stations' Houston Belong Committee, a group that focuses on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

He believed representation mattered in the stories that are told every day.

Known for his infectious laugh, warm smile, and ability to connect with anyone in a conversation, Rehan inspired each of us to be our best selves and journalists every single day.

Rehan was a remarkable person, and anyone who knew him immediately liked him. He was kind, smart, and hard-working, and he loved being in the news business.

He was -- as a prerequisite for working in the industry -- always curious, and his loss is felt in our newsroom and by felt everyone who ever came in contact with him.

Rehan was 47 years old and is survived by his wife Sadaf and son Rafae.