‘It is important to get checked out’: Cancer-stricken Sarah Harding, 39, reveals she delayed visiting her doctor because of the COVID pandemic – as she urges others not to do the same
- The Girls Aloud star, 39, wrote about her ongoing cancer battle in an extract from her new book Hear Me Out, which was shared by The Times on Saturday
- 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’
- It comes after she revealed she almost died of sepsis and had to be put in a coma for two weeks following her breast cancer diagnosis
- Last August, Sarah revealed her diagnosis and told fans she’d been battling the disease for several months with weekly chemotherapy sessions
- If you have been affected by this story, call Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00
Sarah Harding has revealed she went public with her devastating cancer diagnosis to warn those who may be delaying doctor visits amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Girls Aloud star, 39, wrote about her terminal cancer battle in an extract from her new book Hear Me Out, which was shared by The Times over the weekend.
And she has admitted that after initially wanting to keep her diagnosis private, she eventually felt duty-bound to speak out and help others catch their cancer early.
Warning: Sarah Harding has revealed she went public with her devastating cancer diagnosis to warn those who may be delaying doctor visits amid the COVID-19 pandemic
She wrote: ‘There had been so much reporting on the news about people missing out on check-ups during Covid lockdown, even though they might be worried about something. People who had left a cancer diagnosis until it might be too late.
‘Maybe if I spoke out, as a public figure, a celebrity, it could help get the message across how important it is to get checked out if you have concerns.’
The singer added: ‘As scary as it was to go public about my diagnosis, it was the right thing to do, and the amount of support I’ve received is incredible. I’ve been inundated with lovely messages from my fans. I’m grateful beyond words for that.’
It comes after Sarah revealed she does not know how many months she has left to live after her breast cancer spread to her spine.
Struggle: Sarah (pictured in 2018) also said she put off seeing a doctor because of the COVID-19 crisis, writing that she’d been ‘in denial’ about how ‘something was very wrong’
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.
Hear Me Out: The Girls Aloud star, 39, wrote about her ongoing cancer battle in an extract from her new book Hear Me Out, which was shared by The Times over the weekend
The star explained how after facing the agony of losing her breast, she doesn’t want to lose her signature blonde locks as well.
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.
She said: ‘I think what I’d really like to do is to see everyone – all my friends, all together. One last time. Then I’d throw a great big f*** off party as a way to say thank you and goodbye.”
She added that she wants to find joy ‘whenever and however I can’ as she poignantly noted that ‘Life has got so much smaller’.
Sarah went on to share how grateful she is to ‘wake up every day’ amid her cancer battle, as she said it has made her realise how special life is.
So sad: In the book, she wrote, ‘In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last. I don’t want an exact prognosis’ (pictured in 2018)
She explained: ‘I’m just grateful to wake up every day and live my best life, because now I know just how precious it is . . . nothing is certain any more.’
It comes after she revealed she almost died of sepsis and had to be put in a coma for two weeks following her breast cancer diagnosis.
As Sarah looked back at the start of her journey, she said: ‘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.
Plans: 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 (pictured in 2018)
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.’
Adding to Sarah’s own words, a source told The Sun how she delayed being seen by doctors because she was ‘scared’ of going to hospital amid the global pandemic.
The source said: ‘Sarah held back from speaking to her doctors about how much pain she was in because of the pandemic and because she was scared. Sarah is now living with advanced cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy.
‘Along with telling her life story, Sarah wanted to use her book Hear Me Out to urge her fans not to wait to speak to their GP under any circumstances. She doesn’t want anyone to make that mistake.’
Sarah’s representatives declined to comment when approached by MailOnline.
Illness: It comes after Sarah revealed that she nearly died of sepsis and was in a coma for two weeks following her breast cancer diagnosis (pictured in 2017)
It comes after Sarah broke her social media silence last month to thank fans for their ongoing support amid her breast cancer battle.
The singer, who hadn’t posted on her Instagram or Twitter accounts since the start of December, took to the image-sharing app to discuss her hospital treatments, as well as to reveal that she had completed work on her autobiography.
She wrote: ‘I know I’m not really that present on here which I promise I’ll try to get a bit better at, as honestly it means the world to me when I come on and see all your well wishes. Thank you for the love and support, on bad days it helps me so much.
‘So here’s a little update from me… Mum, the dogs and I had a really lovely but quiet Christmas together, which was different to my usual, but seemed a fitting way to end such a strange year.
‘And since then, in between treatments and hospital visits I’ve managed to finish my book! I can’t believe I’ve actually gone and done it and it’s now at the printers!
Candid: Sarah wrote that before being diagnosed the pain ‘got so bad that I couldn’t sleep in a bed. Eventually my skin started to bruise. By now I was terrified’ (pictured in 2015)
‘I’m so excited for it to come out: ‘I can’t rewrite history; all I can do is be honest and wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s really the only way I know. I want to show people the real me. Or perhaps remind them.
‘Because, somewhere – amongst the nightclubs, the frocks and hairdos, the big chart hits, and the glamour of being a popstar – the other Sarah Harding got utterly lost. She’s the one who’s been forgotten. And all I want is for you to hear her out.
‘I called the book Hear Me Out because it’s the title of the song I wrote on the second Girls Aloud album and I’ve always really loved it.
‘The lyrics have always meant a lot to me. It’s been lovely revisiting our songs, looking back over photos and writing down memories from my last 39 years. I really hope you might enjoy reading about them too.
She concluded the lengthy post: ‘There’s a link in my biog if you’d like to order a copy. There are some signed ones available too. It’s coming out on March 18 and I can’t wait… argh!!! Sending you all lots of love, S x.’
Sharing an update: Last month, 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
Book: She also shared further details about her book, which is set to be released on March 18
The singer previously admitted she was finding things difficult, but assured her followers she was ‘fighting hard’ and ‘being brave’, while posting a throwback photograph of herself as a child.
She wrote: ‘I can’t deny that things are tough right now but I’m fighting as hard as I possibly can and being as brave as I know how.’
The post marked the first time Sarah had spoken about her diagnosis since she made the announcement about having advanced-stage cancer in August.
Taking to Instagram, she wrote: ‘Hi everyone. Thank you so much for all the messages of love and support that I’ve received since my last post.
‘Everyone has been so kind and reading your comments and DMs has been such a huge source of strength to me.
Update: Back in December, Sarah spoke about her ‘tough’ breast cancer battle and revealed she was writing the book about her life (pictured as a young girl)
‘Hope you’re all keeping well’: Sarah thanked fans for their support when she shared an update on her condition and announced she was in the process of writing a book
‘I can’t deny that things are tough right now but I’m fighting as hard as I possibly can and being as brave as I know how.
Sarah went on to reveal she had been asked to write a book about her life, which gave her something ‘positive’ to focus on throughout her hospital treatment.
The singer wrote: ‘In September the lovely people at Ebury Publishing asked me if I would be interested in writing a book about my life story.
‘It came at such a good time for me as it’s given me something fun and positive to focus on while I’ve been stuck at home in between trips to the hospital for treatment.
‘I’ve nearly finished it now and this week Mum and I have been looking though old photos choosing which ones to include.
Heartbreaking: The post marked the first time Sarah had spoken about her diagnosis since revealing she had advanced-stage cancer in August (pictured on Big Brother in 2017)
Moving: Sarah’s bandmates Cheryl, Nicola, Kimberley Walsh and Nadine all shared their support for the star on Twitter following her shocking news
‘It’ll be out after Christmas and I’m really proud of it. I hope you’ll like it. Sending lots of love to everyone – I hope you’re all keeping well – S x’
Sarah’s devastated Girls Aloud bandmates rallied round her after the singer revealed she had been diagnosed with ‘advanced’ breast cancer earlier this year.
She shared her shocking diagnosis with fans on Instagram, leading to an outpouring of support from an array of stars, including her former bandmates.
Sarah disappeared from the public eye two years ago after achieving notoriety through her wild antics, explosive love affairs and a rehab stint in 2011.
After Sarah announced her diagnosis, pop stars Cheryl, Nicola, Kimberley and Nadine – who enjoyed more than decade of chart-topping success with Sarah in the band – reached out to their former bandmate.
Beloved: The singer is best known as a member of Girls Aloud, who split in 2013 (pictured second left with L-R Cheryl, Nadine, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh in 2009)
Meanwhile, Sarah’s bandmate Nadine Coyle recently revealed that plans for a Girls Aloud reunion have been put on hold while they support Sarah through her breast cancer battle.
The singer, 35, insisted Sarah remains ‘their priority’ following her devastating diagnosis last year, despite questions from fans around whether the band will be reuniting for their 20th Anniversary.
It comes after Nadine also said that she and her bandmates have put their differences aside to show their support for Sarah after she revealed she was battling breast cancer.
Speaking on an Instagram Live, Nadine said she and band haven’t discussed how they’re going to celebrate their 20th Anniversary next year, despite questions from her followers.
She said: ‘I would love to be like ”yes, this is what we are doing” – at the minute it is very much thinking about Sarah, very much being there for Sarah.
Not yet: Nadine Coyle recently revealed that plans for a Girls Aloud reunion have been put on hold due to bandmate Sarah’s breast cancer battle (pictured with the band in 2012)
‘It is a really unfortunate time for her and the whole thing is like ‘come on, come on’ because that could be the priory talking about ‘shall we go do a tour’ or ‘should we do something’?”
‘Instead we are worried about Sarah, so we are focusing everything. That is the main priority.’
In another exert from her book, Sarah revealed that winning a Brit Award with Girls Aloud was one of proudest moments in her life.
She joked that ‘as usual’ she was the first one to grab the award while screaming: ‘It’s about time!’
The 33-year-old said she is sure her former bandmates feel equally proud of the time they were recognised for their song, The Promise, at the 2009 BRIT Awards ceremony.
If you have been affected by this story, call Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00.
Support: ‘I would love to be like ”yes, this is what we are doing” – at the minute it is very much thinking about Sarah, very much being there for Sarah’
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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