Sarah Harding discussed her fears over receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in a poignant chat six years before she died from the illness at 39.
It was announced on Sunday that the Girls Aloud songstress had ‘peacefully’ passed away, following a battle with the illness, with her mother’s announcement being met with an outpouring of grief, love and support from celebrity friends.
Back in 2015, during a Pink Ribbon Charity lunch at Champneys Spa in Tring, Hertfordshire, Sarah spoke candidly about her fears over breast cancer, and heartbreakingly said: ‘Luckily for me so far, fingers crossed, I’ve been okay’.
She explained that her family had been ravaged by the disease, so felt the illness was ‘close to her heart’ while also urging all women to check their breasts and also highlighting the importance of awareness in men.
Tragic: Sarah Harding discussed her fears over receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in a poignant chat six years before she died from the illness at 39
Speaking about the impact of breast cancer on her life, Sarah said: ‘Breast cancer is something that’s quite close to my heart anyway because it runs in my family. On my mum’s side it has touched me…
‘And they say one in three are touched by cancer and one in eight it’s breast cancer. My mum and all her sisters have had to have lumps removed and things like that…
‘And close friends of the family have had to have mastectomies and augmentations and things like that. So for me it’s something that’s quite close to my heart, and it’s always good to try and give something back…
‘If I can support by my being here in any way I can and help raise awareness, that’s good for me and good for them. It’s good for all women. I think it’s empowerment, you know.’
Touching: Back in 2015, during a Pink Ribbon Charity lunch at Champneys Spa in Tring, Hertfordshire, Sarah spoke candidly about her fears over breast cancer, and heartbreakingly said: ‘Luckily for me so far, fingers crossed, I’ve been okay’ (Sarah is pictured in 2015)
When asked if she feared the disease, Sarah said: ‘Yeah. Oh gosh. I think it’s important that every woman has to check themselves regularly….
‘Luckily for me so far, fingers crossed, I’ve been okay. Another thing women have to be aware of is obviously cervical cancer. So there’s a lot to worry about as a woman. As there is with men.’
Sarah revealed last year she had been diagnosed with cancer.
A message from Sarah’s mother Marie was posted to the star’s Instagram account on Sunday, 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.
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’
‘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’.
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.
Tragedy: When asked if she feared the disease, Sarah said: ‘Yeah. Oh gosh. I think it’s important that every woman has to check themselves regularly’ (Sarah in August 2015)
BREAST CANCER FACTS AND FIGURES
– How many people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 15% of all new cancer cases.
Across Britain there are some 55,200 new breast cancer cases every year – about 150 every day, according to Cancer Research UK (CRUK).
About one in every eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
– What are the survival odds of someone diagnosed with breast cancer?
More than three-quarters of people (76%) survive breast cancer for a decade or more after their diagnosis, CRUK figures show.
But there are still about 11,400 breast cancer deaths in the UK every year.
– What are the symptoms?
The first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.
Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it is always best to have them checked by a doctor.
Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer, but there are a number of other symptoms.
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, Nadine, Nicola and Kimberley in Girls Aloud and the band took the UK by storm soon after.
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 continued to undergo treatment for breast cancer.
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.’
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.
Illness: In a 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’
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.’
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
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’.
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
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