Entertainment

Davina McCall and Ferne Cotton lead the tributes as showbiz friends remember Sarah Harding

Stars from the world of entertainment have paid tribute to tragic Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding following her untimely death to breast cancer at the age of 39. 

The singer, who also modelled and had a starring role in the St Trinian’s film series, passed away earlier today, her family announced, just 13-months after confirming her cancer diagnosis. 

Former Big Brother host Davina McCall wrote in a tribute to Sarah Harding: ‘So so sad to hear about Sarah … a star from the get go, hugely fun and outgoing yet also somehow fragile… love to her family and friends.’  

Fearne Cotton was among those paying tribute on the Instagram post from Sarah Harding’s mother announcing her passing.

Heartbreaking:  Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding, who also modelled and had a starring role in the St Trinian’s film series, passed away earlier today, her family announced, just 13-months after confirming her cancer diagnosis 

She wrote: “Oh my gosh I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m sending your family so much love and strength. She was always kind and so much fun to be around. I’m very sorry for your loss. Prayers and love to you.”

Alesha Dixon has described Sarah Harding as a “shining star” following her death. The singer and talent show judge said on Twitter: ‘A sad day! Such a shining star! Rest in peace beautiful Sarah.’

Fellow TV star Denise Van Outen commented on the Instagram post from Sarah Harding’s mother, Marie, announcing her death.

Devastated: Stars from the world of entertainment have paid tribute to Sarah across social media following her untimely death to breast cancer at the age of 39

Devastated: Stars from the world of entertainment have paid tribute to Sarah across social media following her untimely death to breast cancer at the age of 39

She wrote: ‘This is so heartbreaking. Rest in peace beautiful Sarah. Thinking of you all. Family and friends’.

Elsewhere model and presenter Jodie Kidd wrote: ‘Heart aches, fly high and shine bright bubba girl x I am so so sorry’.

Former Spandau Ballet member Martin Kemp has tweeted his condolences to Sarah’s family and friends.

‘Sarah Harding so sad, my heart goes out to all your friends and family and all your fans,” he tweeted. ‘Rest in peace!’ 

TV presenter Vernon Kay described Harding as “the driving energy in the room” on social media.

‘Very sad news,’ he tweeted. ‘From the moment Pop Idol finished GA were regularly on T4 and Radio1. Sarah was always the driving energy in the room… RIP.’ 

Reality TV star Calum Best has spoken of the “crazy fun times and adventures” he had with Sarah Harding.

He said on Twitter: ‘Jesus this one hits home, so damn sad, so young. I hope u rest In peace Sarah we had some crazy fun times and adventures. U will be so very missed. Sending so much love to ur mom.”

His post was accompanied by three pictures of him with the former Girls Aloud member.

A devastated JLS star Oritse Williams tweeted: Heartbreaking to hear that Sarah Hardingfrom Girls Aloud has just passed away after a long battle with cancer. The times we met she was always so bubbly, such a big beautiful personality. My sincerest sympathies and heart goes out to Sarah’s friends, family & band members.’ 

Meanwhile Steps star Ian “H” Watkins wrote on the Instagram post: ‘Fly high beautiful Sarah xx I will miss you xx’.

Former Strictly Come Dancing professional James Jordan tweeted “life is so bloody cruel sometimes” after Harding’s death was announced. 

Kym Marsh, whose band Hear’Say was created on ITV show Popstars, also paid tribute to Sarah Harding.

She wrote on Twitter: ‘I’m so very sorry to hear of the passing of Sarah Harding. What a beautiful girl and person she really was.

‘I don’t claim to have known her very well but what I did know was how fun and kind she really was. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. Sleep tight.’ 

TV personality Lizzie Cundy said she is “heartbroken” following the death of Sarah Harding.

In a post on Twitter, accompanied by a picture of them together, she said: ‘A beautiful girl inside and out … Heartbroken. Thank you for the fun times dear Sarah. Rest in peace my friend.’ 

A tweet from the official account of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly said: ‘Such sad news. RIP Sarah xx’.

Sarah, who teamed up with the likes of Cheryl Tweedy to form Girls Aloud while on reality singing show Pop Stars: The Rivals, revealed last year she had been diagnosed with cancer.

A message from Sarah’s mother Marie was posted to the star’s Instagram account today, which read: ‘It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away.

‘Many of you will know of Sarah’s battle with cancer and that she fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day.

‘She slipped away peacefully this morning. I’d like to thank everyone for their kind support over the past year. It meant the world to Sarah and it gave her great strength and comfort to know she was loved.

‘I know she won’t want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease – she was a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered instead. Marie x’

Star: The singer was one fifth of Girls Aloud, who were formed in the early noughties. She is pictured in 2003 with bandmates [Top L-R] Nicola Roberts, Nadine Coyle, [Bottom L-R] Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl

Star: The singer was one fifth of Girls Aloud, who were formed in the early noughties. She is pictured in 2003 with bandmates [Top L-R] Nicola Roberts, Nadine Coyle, [Bottom L-R] Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl

A message from Sarah's mother Marie was posted to her Instagram account. It read: 'It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away'

A message from Sarah's mother Marie was posted to her Instagram account. It read: 'It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away'

A message from Sarah’s mother Marie was posted to her Instagram account. It read: ‘It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away’

A message from Sarah's mother Marie was posted to her Instagram account. It read: 'It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away'

A message from Sarah's mother Marie was posted to her Instagram account. It read: 'It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away'

A message from Sarah’s mother Marie was posted to her Instagram account. It read: ‘It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away’

Born in Ascot, Berkshire, in 1981, Sarah spent most of her school years in Stockport, Greater Manchester. She worked in a nightclub promotions team after leaving school.

She also toured North West England performing at pubs, social clubs, and caravan parks to support herself while pushing for a career in the arts. 

Sarah found fame in 2002 when she won a place on Popstars: The Rivals – a precursor to the Pop Idol franchise.

She teamed up with, Cheryl Tweedy, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh in Girls Aloud and the band took the UK by storm soon after.

The group achieved twenty consecutive top ten singles – including four number ones – in the UK and six platinum studio albums before the band took a hiatus in 2009. 

Sarah was reportedly planning a solo career as a blue singer prior to her cancer diagnosis and had been honing her skills as a guitarist before the diagnosis last August.

Speaking to The Sun, a source said: ‘Sarah really wanted to revamp herself as an altogether different kind of artist to her Girls Aloud days. She was on a journey to find herself musically and re-brand as a blues artist, as that’s where her passion is.

‘She was playing guitar all night until her fingers bled and watching videos of her favourite performers in order to perfect her sound.

‘Her health issues meant she didn’t get a chance to lay down any tracks, but there’s hope she will ­eventually be well enough to put out the kind of music she loves.

‘She was looking forward to being in the driving seat and surprising people.’

Sarah recently revealed she is taking cannabis oil to ease her pain as she continues to undergo treatment for breast cancer. 

Plans: Sarah was reportedly planning a solo career as a blue singer prior to her cancer diagnosis and had been honing her skills as a guitarist before the diagnosis last August [pictured in 2018]

Change in direction: The Girls Aloud star, 39, is currently battling breast cancer, but had been honing her skills as a guitarist before the diagnosis last August [pictured in 2014]

Plans: Sarah was reportedly planning a solo career as a blue singer prior to her cancer diagnosis and had been honing her skills as a guitarist before the diagnosis last August [pictured in 2018]

A source said: 'Sarah really wanted to revamp herself as an altogether different kind of artist to her Girls Aloud days' [Girls Aloud are pictured in 2007]

A source said: ‘Sarah really wanted to revamp herself as an altogether different kind of artist to her Girls Aloud days’ [Girls Aloud are pictured in 2007]

In an extract from her autobiography Hear Me Out, the pop star said she decided to try the treatment after it was recommended to her by pal Duncan James.

It comes after Sarah also revealed that her cancer treatment is ‘moving in the right direction’ and her tumours have ‘shrunk,’ since she publicly revealed her diagnosis back in August.

In her book Sarah revealed Duncan suggested she try CBD oil after he found benefits from the treatment when he suffered a back injury during a stage show.

She said: ‘He’d used it after he suffered a massive back injury, while he was doing drag and wearing heels in Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert.

‘I figured that if it was something that could help Duncan in that situation, then I should definitely give it a go.’ 

Improving: Sarah recently revealed she's taking cannabis oil to ease her pain as she continues to undergo treatment for breast cancer

Improving: Sarah recently revealed she’s taking cannabis oil to ease her pain as she continues to undergo treatment for breast cancer

'I figured I should definitely give it a go': The Girls Aloud star, 39, said she decided to try CBD after revealing her cancer treatment is 'moving in the right direction'

‘I figured I should definitely give it a go’: The Girls Aloud star, 39, said she decided to try CBD after revealing her cancer treatment is ‘moving in the right direction’

CBD oil is a legal cannabinoid that can be sold in the UK, and is thought to have some medicinal properties, including relieving inflammation, pain and anxiety. 

It comes after Sarah revealed tumours in her brain and lung have shrunk with treatment.

The musician revealed she had been battling breast cancer in August 2020 and recently said she does not know how many months she has left to live after her cancer spread to her spine. 

The media personality spoke of her joy that treatment – including weekly chemotherapy sessions – had achieved this milestone and that she was able to enjoy a ‘relaxing Christmas.’

Ending the book, Sarah wrote: ‘MRI scans at the end of December revealed that the tumours in my brain and in my lung have shrunk a bit with the treatment.’

The TV star said that while she didn’t know ‘exactly what this means’, ‘right now, every little victory feels momentous.

She continued: ‘With this news under my belt, I was able to enjoy a relaxing quiet Christmas with mum and yes, I got plenty of lovely Christmas pressies.’

Sarah ends the book with: ‘At the moment, I’m just grateful to wake up every day and live my best life, because now I know just how precious it is.’ 

In a further recent excerpt from the book, shared by The Times on Saturday, Sarah said Christmas 2020 was ‘probably her last.’

In the latest tragic update from the book, she penned: ‘In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last. I don’t want an exact prognosis. I don’t know why anyone would want that…

‘Comfort and being as pain-free as possible is what’s important to me now. I’m trying to live and enjoy every second of my life, however long it might be. I am having a glass of wine or two during all this, because it helps me relax.’   

The singer added that she now wants to try and ‘enjoy’ herself as she doesn’t know ‘how many months I’ve got left’.

At present, the Call The Shots hitmaker is considering her options for treatment of the secondary tumour at the base of her spine, which may now have spread to her brain.  

However, she’s adamant that she doesn’t want to undergo radiotherapy and risk losing her hair, with Sarah noting that although this may sound ‘vain’, she feels that if she only has months left to live then it’s not worth it. 

The star explained how after facing the agony of losing her breast, she doesn’t want to lose her signature blonde locks as well.

Illness: In another tragic update from the book, she penned: 'In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last. I don't want an exact prognosis'

She said: Ending the book, she said: 'MRI scans at the end of December revealed that the tumours in my brain and in my lung have shrunk a bit with the treatment' (pictured 2008)

Illness: In another tragic update from the book, she penned: ‘In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last. I don’t want an exact prognosis’

Sharing an update: In January, the singer told her Instagram followers that she had a 'lovely but quiet' Christmas with her mother and their dogs, rounding out a 'strange' year

Sharing an update: In January, the singer told her Instagram followers that she had a ‘lovely but quiet’ Christmas with her mother and their dogs, rounding out a ‘strange’ year

Sarah went to to say that her priority now is to spent as much time as possible with her mother and friends before she dies, while the star is also hoping to throw a huge party to say ‘goodbye’ to her loved ones. 

As Sarah looked back at the start of her journey, she added: ‘At first I thought it was just a cyst. The trouble was the pain was getting worse. It got so bad that I couldn’t sleep in a bed. Eventually my skin started to bruise. By now I was terrified.

‘One day I woke up realising I’d been in denial. Yes there was a pandemic but it was almost as if I’d been using that as an excuse not to face up to the fact that something was very wrong.’

Sarah went on to detail her experience of being put into a coma for an extended period of time, and added that she struggled to form speech even when she was taken out of it.

Sarah explained: ‘With both my lungs and kidneys failing, doctors decided to put me into an induced coma. Even once I was off the ventilator I couldn’t speak properly. All I could do was make noises like a chimpanzee trying to communicate.’

If you have been affected by this story, call Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world and affects more than two MILLION women a year

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Each year in the UK there are more than 55,000 new cases, and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. In the US, it strikes 266,000 each year and kills 40,000. But what causes it and how can it be treated?

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer develops from a cancerous cell which develops in the lining of a duct or lobule in one of the breasts.

When the breast cancer has spread into surrounding breast tissue it is called an ‘invasive’ breast cancer. Some people are diagnosed with ‘carcinoma in situ’, where no cancer cells have grown beyond the duct or lobule.

Most cases develop in women over the age of 50 but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men though this is rare.

Staging means how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

The cancerous cells are graded from low, which means a slow growth, to high, which is fast growing. High grade cancers are more likely to come back after they have first been treated.

What causes breast cancer?

A cancerous tumour starts from one abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. It is thought that something damages or alters certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiply ‘out of control’.

Although breast cancer can develop for no apparent reason, there are some risk factors that can increase the chance of developing breast cancer, such as genetics.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

The usual first symptom is a painless lump in the breast, although most breast lumps are not cancerous and are fluid filled cysts, which are benign. 

The first place that breast cancer usually spreads to is the lymph nodes in the armpit. If this occurs you will develop a swelling or lump in an armpit.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

  • Initial assessment: A doctor examines the breasts and armpits. They may do tests such as a mammography, a special x-ray of the breast tissue which can indicate the possibility of tumours.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue is removed from a part of the body. The sample is then examined under the microscope to look for abnormal cells. The sample can confirm or rule out cancer.

If you are confirmed to have breast cancer, further tests may be needed to assess if it has spread. For example, blood tests, an ultrasound scan of the liver or a chest x-ray.

How is breast cancer treated?

Treatment options which may be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. Often a combination of two or more of these treatments are used.

  • Surgery: Breast-conserving surgery or the removal of the affected breast depending on the size of the tumour.
  • Radiotherapy: A treatment which uses high energy beams of radiation focussed on cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells, or stops cancer cells from multiplying. It is mainly used in addition to surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: A treatment of cancer by using anti-cancer drugs which kill cancer cells, or stop them from multiplying
  • Hormone treatments: Some types of breast cancer are affected by the ‘female’ hormone oestrogen, which can stimulate the cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments which reduce the level of these hormones, or prevent them from working, are commonly used in people with breast cancer.

How successful is treatment?

The outlook is best in those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small, and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumour in an early stage may then give a good chance of cure.

The routine mammography offered to women between the ages of 50 and 70 mean more breast cancers are being diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

For more information visit breastcancercare.org.uk, breastcancernow.org or www.cancerhelp.org.uk


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