Sarah Harding would have been celebrating her milestone 40th birthday today.
The former Girls Aloud singer tragically died in September following a short battle with breast cancer.
She was diagnosed in early 2020, and went public with her diagnosis last summer.
Sarah admitted she was a “mess” when she was told the devastating news, and immediately thought she was going to die.
She said she spent the evening with Nadine, crying and drinking wine, as Nadine told her how much she loved her.
When there was a brief break in lockdowns back in December 2020, Nadine, 35, travelled up to Manchester to see Sarah.
Nadine wrote: “Throughout the evening, we all had our moments of hysterical laugher followed by tears.
“At one point, Nadine told me in no uncertain terms how much she cared about me: ‘You don’t understand, Sarah. I love you!'”
The pair stayed up late into the night, eating cheese and biscuits and talking.
Here is her brave journey in full throughout the months leading up to her tragic passing…
Sarah kept the illness secret for months and only told bandmates Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh about it in a series of emotional phone calls.
But Sarah, who was being cared for by her 80-year-old mum Marie, vowed to fight the malignant breast cancer – as messages support also flooded in from other celebs.
She wrote last year: “There’s no easy way to say this and actually it doesn’t even feel real writing this, but here goes. Earlier this year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and a couple of weeks ago I received the devastating news that the cancer has advanced to other parts of my body.
“I’m undergoing weekly chemotherapy sessions and I am fighting as hard as I possibly can. My amazing mum, family and close friends are helping me through this, and I want to say a thank you to the wonderful NHS doctors and nurses who have been and continue to be heroes. I am doing my very best to keep positive and will keep you updated.”
Cheryl, Nadine, Nicola and Kimberley were said to have been “floored” by the news.
Cheryl simply shared a broken heart emoji in response. Nadine posted: “I love you. You have always been able to achieve miracles when needed. I am here for all the way.”
Kimberley, who was starring in a London musical when she was told the news was said to be “devastated” and was “being supported by her cast-mates”.
Nicola wrote: “It goes without saying that this is blindsiding. Sarah, you’re so loved and supported.”
Dismissing pain as ‘cyst’
In her book, Sarah opened up about being in “denial” about having a serious health problem before she was diagnosed with the condition.
She said she initially dismissed pain in her body before seeking medical attention.
“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,” the star wrote.
“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.”
‘Terrified’ of getting breast cancer
Sarah feared suffering from breast cancer six years before her diagnosis, she said in an unearthed interview.
In 2015, whilst attending a Pink Ribbon Charity lunch at Champneys Spa in Tring, Hertfordshire, Sarah shared her worries over getting breast cancer as she opened up on how she’d seen family members and close friends take on cancer.
MailOnline report that the singing sensation said at the event: “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…”
The bubbly personality then added how she wanted to “give something back” after “seeing close friends of the family have had to have mastectomies and augmentations and things.”
When asked if she was concerned with getting 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’s last Christmas
Before she passed, Sarah shared how Christmas 2020 was probably her last.
After having a mastectomy and intensive chemotherapy, the cancer had spread to her spine.
Writing about her cancer treatment, she explained: “In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last.
“I’m at a stage now where I don’t know how many months I have left.”
Sarah revealed she didn’t want to undergo radiotherapy as it would mean also losing her hair.
The songstress argued that if she only has a few months left, losing her hair would not be worth it.
The Celebrity Big Brother winner shared: “I don’t want to feel like I have to spend whatever time I have left hiding away.”
She also does not want an exact prognosis, and can’t see why anyone would want that.
Instead of dwelling on how many months she has left, Sarah is concentrating on making the most of the time she has.
“I’m trying to live and enjoy every second of my life, however long it might be,” she explains.
Plotting her comeback
The songstress was said to be planning on making a huge music comeback before she was diagnosed with cancer.
She had reportedly set her sights on blues music, and was hoping to release an album dedicated to the genre.
Sarah had been honing in on her vocal skills and had even taken up guitar classes in a bid to be seen as a ‘raw’ artist.
A source close to the star told The Sun that Sarah was determined to ‘revamp’ her image after the success of Girls Aloud.
“Sarah really wanted to revamp herself as an altogether different kind of artist to her Girls Aloud days,” the insider revealed.
“She was on a journey to find herself musically and rebrand 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.”
Sarah was hoping to ‘surprise people’ with her blues voice and was also looking forward to being her own boss and working on her own after being a part of a girlband for so many years.
The star’s legacy will be remembered by her Girls Aloud pals and her beloved fans.
Her mum broke the news of her passing on Instagram.
She wrote: “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.”
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